yr-jeanne-cooper-katherine-final-scene

CBS screenshot

Only five days after she said good night on screen, she said goodbye for real.

No one could have known when Jeanne Cooper finished taping on March 26, 2013, that she would never again light up the Young & Restless soundstage as Katherine Chancellor, the big-hearted moneybags she’d played since 1973. But her final scene with longtime on-screen foil Jess Walton as arch-frenemy Jill Abbott sure made it seem like someone on the writing team was prescient.

More: Jeanne Cooper’s Soaps.com interview revisited

As you’ll see in the clip below, at first, they’re just talking business — sparring over business, really. So business as usual. But then Katherine rises from her seat to go to bed, her estimable portrayer seeming to struggle to get up the first step — which, of course, she did, with a gesture that said, “I don’t need an assist, thank you very much.”

More: Jill vs. Katherine and more soap rivalries [PHOTOS]

Jill, her eyes filled with rarely-seen concern and affection, stopped Katherine before she began her ascent to the bedroom. “Do you want me to help you up the stairs?” asked Jill, Walton’s face radiating the love that she felt for her co-star.

“I believe I can manage,” replied Katherine. “Thank you, though.

“Good night,” she added before fighting her way up that damn staircase. And that was the last time that we saw Cooper in action as Katherine. Weakened, maybe, but determined as ever. Present as ever. Compelling as ever.

More: Young & Restless Emmy winner remembers Jeanne Cooper

The scene aired on May 3, 2013, just five days before Cooper passed away at the age of 84. “Every step Jeanne played on that stairway was just pure genius,” Walton told Michael Fairman TV in 2013. “I am so grateful that that happened. It wasn’t planned. It all came together so, so well. She played it for all it’s worth.”

As Cooper always did. On this somber occasion, perk yourself up by reviewing Soaps.com’s countdown of Young & Restless’ all-time best characters; we suspect you’ll approve of the slot that Cooper’s alter ego occupies.