On the Anniversary of the Beloved Young & Restless Stars’ Death, a Tribute to to the Man Who Led One of Daytime’s Greatest Families
There’s a part of all of us that probably wishes he was our dad, too.
Soaps, as every fan knows, have a tendency to flip through both characters and actors on a fairly regular basis. People join shows and leave, characters pop-up only to be killed off. Sometimes, though, actors find a true home on their soap and both they and their characters become synonymous
That’s what happened with Jerry Douglas when he took over the role of The Young and the Restless’ John Abbott two years after the character’s creation.
By the time he showed up in Genoa City in March of 1982, Douglas had been on television for over two decades, racking up TV appearances on everything from The Outer Limits to The Bionic Woman. For soap viewers, though, he’ll always be our John.
Douglas would go on to play Abbott patriarch for a quarter of a century before he was killed off when wife Gloria pulled the plug after a stroke. It was a controversial story with fans who did not want to let John go and didn’t see any reason why he should have died. Indeed, Douglas himself wasn’t ready to let the character with whom he’d become synonymous go as he barely even let death slow John down.
It’s a testament to the character, sure, but even more-so to his portrayer. Douglas breathed so much life into John that it remained after his death when the Abbott head, by the next month began an astonishing ten-year stint as a recurring ghost.
For any other character, that might sound silly, but not John Abbott. His spectral visits to his kids — especially Jack and Billy whose lives always seemed to be a mess — were always welcome. We didn’t just look forward to them from a story perspective as he guided his children back from the edge, but because it always felt like our own lost family-member was returning to us for just a few brief moments.
Douglas was so beloved that just a month after a new regime took over Young & Restless in 2008, he was brought back to the Genoa City land of the living as John lookalike Alistair Wallingford. The attempt was noble, but a drunken actor just didn’t hit the same as the head of Abbott and Alistair was written back out after a few months.
Still, that didn’t mean the end of Douglas or John. And though the actor appeared less frequently as time passed went on, the two stuck it out in Genoa City for the next eight years.
Off-screen, the actor refused to let John’s death get him down and in 2007, Douglas proved he wasn’t just a great actor, but also an amazing crooner when he released his jazz album, “The Best is Yet to Come.”
Though John’s last appearance was back in 2016, Douglas was still going strong. He passed away just a year ago on November 9, 2021. The legendary actor was just two days shy of his 89th birthday.
“We all loved Jerry so much,” Lauralee Bell (Christine) wrote on Instagram when he passed. “At times, he felt like a father figure (maybe because we all wanted John Abbott as our father) and sometimes he’d remind me of my dad, but more often with all the events we’ve had, filled with laughs, he was the kindest man and the sweetest friend and I will miss him so much!”
Eilleen Davidson (Ashley), meanwhile, shared a veritable gallery of photos on Instagram, writing, “One of a kind. I owe him so much and I will love him forever.”
And Jess Walton (Jill) paid a special tribute to her former TV husband and father of their onscreen child, Billy, with a “family” photo.
“Rest in peace, my dear TV husband, Jerry Douglas,” she shared. “Thank you for the laughter all those years. Much, much love to you and your beautiful family Kim and Hunter and everyone.”
It’s safe to say, we’ll never stop missing him or John no matter how many years pass.
Take a look at our photo gallery of all the daytime stars we’ve lost so far in 2022.