The American daily soap opera, “The Young & the Restless,” might have been known for the narrative of legendary family rivalries and revenge, but it was also loved for the burning chemistry between the stars of the show. These reel romances sometimes became so intense that the stars ended up marrying or dating in real life. The fans couldn’t be happier the moment these reel-to-real couples were revealed to the public.

America’s staple daily soap opera, “The Young & the Restless”

It was back on 26 March 1973 when a new era of daytime TV drama series, “The Young & the Restless” (Y&R), was introduced to the American audience by CBS. At that time, “Days of our Lives” was a favorite among the viewers, but its creator, William J. Bell had a trove of fascinating stories in his treasure box, that led him to produce another soap opera. The iconic family fights between the Fosters and the Brooks as well as the Williamses and the Abbotts captivated the audience, and over five decades, it became one of the most-watched TV series of all time.

Top 7 interesting facts about “Y&R”

The CBS network found another goldmine in “Y&R”, as it garnered millions of fans over the years, not only in the US but also around the world. The daytime series entered the living room, kitchen, and bedrooms of fans as they followed it loyally through the cycle of drama about love, betrayal, revenge and forgiveness.  Here are some of the most fascinating facts about the series:

Number #1 daytime soap opera for 31 consecutive years

The war on viewership ratings had been quite competitive for daytime TV series, more so in 1988, when around 13 soap operas were being watched on TV. However, during its final week that year, the cast and crew of “Y&R” were ecstatic by the news that they’d finally dethroned ABC’s “General Hospital” as the most-watched daytime TV series. They subsequently  held on to the throne for 31 years, an impressive feat that was difficult to beat, because over those three decades, viewers saw a multitude of soap operas come, but then go. They were lucky enough that they accumulated so many loyal fans, who tuned in every single day.

The first daytime drama aired in high definition or HD

When the producers shifted its focus from storylines to aesthetics, it was regarded as ‘the first truly visual soap opera’ – the lighting and choice of camera angles were superb. It also became even more pleasing to the eyes of the viewers, when it was switched to HD in 2001, the first to do it among the daytime series airing at that time. Other soap operas such as “Bold and the Beautiful” only made the switch in 2011.

Daytime’s longest rivalry

One of the ingredients of a successful soap opera was to include epic rivalries between two characters. “Y&R” in 2012 achieved what other daytime TV series failed to do, which was to have the longest feud in its storyline. The characters of Katherine Chancellor portrayed by Jeanne Cooper and Jill Foster Abbott portrayed initially by Brenda Dickson, but mostly by Jess Walton, fought on TV for 27 years. The feud started when Jill fell in love with Katherine’s husband, and from then on, they competed for love, child’s custody, wealth, and other men.

5th TV series to get past 12,000 episodes

In the highly competitive world of television dramas, to broadcast the 12,000th episode was not only impressive, but considered an epic achievement – “Y&R” was the only fifth drama series in the entire TV history to have reached this milestone. The cast and crew celebrated it by making the core families of the series such as the Abbotts, Newmans, and Chancellors gather together in one place. The fans loved seeing old familiar faces interact on the screen, such as Jess Walton, Eric Braeden, Melody Thomas Scott, Tricia Cast, and many other fan favorites.

“The Young & the Restless” wasn’t the original title of the series

Many loyal fans were surprised when it was revealed that originally William J. Bell and Lee Phillip Bell, the creators of the popular soap opera, wanted a different title for the show, which was “The Innocent Years.” In retrospect, with all the shocking twists and turns in their storyline, that title would have done the audience a huge disservice. Fortunately, way before the title was used in marketing the drama series, they already realized that it wasn’t appropriate because America’s youth had already lost their innocence by that time. They said, ‘We needed another title, one that reflected the youth and mood of the early seventies.’

One of the most awarded, with 11 Outstanding Drama Series trophies

The Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama Series has given to “Y&R” 11 times, in the years 1975, 1983, 1985-1986, 1993, 2004, 2007, 2014-2015, and 2019-2020. Some of the lead cast members have been recipients of the Daytime Emmy Award for acting categories, including six for Lead Actor, five for Lead Actress, and about 25 for the supporting cast. The creators were also rewarded the Lifetime Achievement Award in 1992 for William J. Bell, and in 2007 for Lee Phillip Bell.

Famous alumni from the soap opera

Some of the biggest stars in Hollywood, including major A-listers had a history with “Y&R.” Most fans were shocked that these popular actors had once-upon-a-time become part of the crazy storylines of the daytime series. Tom Selleck, who made it big via the huge hit primetime series “Magnum P.I.” and “Blue Bloods,” played Jed Andrews in the show for an unknown number of episodes. “Knight Rider” and “Baywatch” lead star David Hasselhoff was part of the show from 1975 to 1982 in the role of Dr. William “Snapper” Foster. “Fast & Furious” movie franchise actor Paul Walker, also graced the soap opera in the character Brandon Collins for 14 episodes. Shemar Moore, lead star of “S.W.A.T.” and “Criminal Minds,” had a contract role, and won a Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in 2000. Eva Longoria, who became huge because of “Desperate Housewives,” was one of the regulars for three years as Isabella Brana. These actors have always been grateful for their time with the show, since it helped them hone their acting skills.

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Reel-life couples who turned into real-life couples

Since time immemorial, many reel couples have found love on set, and started dating when the lights were turned off – some of them even married each other and had children. However, not all of them ended happily; some couples didn’t even last for a year. Take a look at the following list of “Y&R” couples who found their swoon-worthy love stories on the set.

Vincent Van Patten and Eileen Davidson

Eileen Davidson began playing the character of Ashley Abbott in 1982, and became an integral part of the daytime series. She quit after seven years, then returned in 1999 to play the character until 2006, when she made the switch from one of the regulars to a recurring cast member. It was sometime in 2000 when Vincent Van Patten came to the series to play the role of Christian. Eileen’s character met him on a cruise, and to help her, he pretended to be her lover.

They had chemistry but it didn’t develop into anything immediately, because Vince only portrayed the role for 12 episodes, plus at that time they were both in a relationship. In one of the interviews she had, she shared that she already kissed him before they even became official. Eileen was married to actor Jon Lindstrom, and Vince to actress Betsy Russell. In that same year, Eileen divorced from Jon, and Vince filed for divorce, which became absolute in 2001. When they were both single, they dated and married on 14 April 2003. The couple had a son named Jesse, and their marriage remained strong, despite being in Hollywood. Based on her social media account, everything was great at home, and she even posted a photo of them on vacation in May 2022, in which she was inside an ice barrel while he was in the pool; it was captioned, ‘Why is he enjoying this so much?’

Thad Luckinbill and Amelia Heinle

It was Thad Luckinbill who first came to “Y&R” in 1999, in which he played the role of Jeffrey Todd “JT” Hellstrom until he called it quits in 2010. The producers called him again in 2017, and he reprised his role. In March 2005, Amelia Heinle joined the cast to replace Heather Tom in the role of Victoria Newman, and is still in the show to this day. Their characters soon fell in love, had a baby, and were married. They were initially happy, but grew distant from each other because JT became an abusive husband, and they divorced. Later, they found out that he had a brain tumor, which was the underlying cause of his extreme changes of attitude. It was one of the most talked-about storylines among the viewers at that time.

It was quite uncanny that life imitated art, because Thad and Amelia fell in love and were married in March 2007. They had a son named Thaddeus Rowe in November 2007, and a daughter named Georgia March in December 2009. Unfortunately, their marriage suffered as well, but not in the same way as their characters. After being together for 10 years, Thad filed for a divorce in 2017 citing irreconcilable differences, however, there are rumors that they’ve reconciled, and are still married to this day. The reel and real couple continued to work together, even after they separated in real life, and their working relationship only ended when Thad left the show in 2019. While it hasn’t been confirmed that they’re back together, the hopeful fans were relieved that there has been no official announcement of divorce from either of them.

Doug Davidson and Cindy Fisher

One of the most enduring marriages that came out of “Y&R” was that of Doug Davidson and Cindy Fisher. Doug played the role of Paul Williams continuously from1978, but in 2018, it was reported that he wasn’t included in the new narrative of the daytime series. However, that changed when the head writer and executive producer, Mal Young, left the show. He reprised the role, and was the longest-serving cast member until he took a sabbatical in 2020. Cindy Fisher portrayed the role of Rebecca briefly, introduced as one of the recurring characters in the 1980s.

While the two didn’t play onscreen lovers in the soap opera, the set and crew of the “Y&R” played cupid. Eventually, they fell in love and became a real couple off-screen, dated for a year, and then married in 1984. The couple had two children, Caden Douglas and Calyssa Rae, and their daughter followed them into the entertainment industry. As an actor, she was seen in “17 Again” with Zac Efron, and in a music video with Rick Springfield. As a professional violinist, she played for numerous bands in concerts and commercials.

In 2018, Doug and Cindy celebrated their 34th anniversary as a married couple, and he posted about it on his social media account. He mentioned in one of his rare interviews that they were opposites of each other – ‘Cindy’s a bit more cautious than I am. I suppose that’s what kept me out of trouble all of these years’, and also why they were attracted to each other in the first place.

Justin Hartley-Chrishell Stause vs Justine Harley- Sofia Pernas

In the world of make-believe, anything can happen, and sometimes fate steps in, in the most unlikely way. While Justin, Chrishell and Sofia never played any role in “Y&R” that made them onscreen lovers, their off-screen lives became angled. Both Chrishell and Sofia ended up in a marriage with Justin. A few months after Justin divorced Chrishell, he dated Sofia and eventually married her. Their stories were interesting enough to be included in the list, even if they weren’t reel to real couples.

Justin played the role of Adam Newman in “Y&R” in 2014, and became a fan favorite for two years until he left the daytime series in 2016. While he didn’t become a huge star because of it, he was noticed by the viewers. Chrishell Stause played the role of Bethany Bryant, a recurring character who was introduced to the viewers in 2016, by which time Justin was already involved with another daytime series. Sofia was in the show for three years from 2015 up to 2017 – at one point in their lives they were social media friends, as they all followed one another on Instagram.

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Justin and Chrishell started dating in 2013, and married in 2017. It was such a lovely wedding that many felt that it was some sort of a fairytale union, and it was featured in People Magazine. People gushed at the sight of the couple when they attended Hollywood red carpet events, because they looked great together, and seemed to be very much in love. He even said in an interview, ‘At the risk of sounding cheesy, I look forward to sharing life experiences and growing old together.’ His fame skyrocketed in 2016 when he participated in the hit series “This is Us.”

After two years as a married couple, it was reported that he filed for divorce in a Los Angeles court, citing irreconcilable differences. Chrishell, who found a new home in the reality-TV series “Selling Sunset,” shared that she was blindsided and shocked by it. ‘We had a fight that morning over the phone, and I never saw him since.’ The divorce was granted in December 2019.

Sofia and Justin worked together in “Y&R”, and she even liked most of what Justin and Chrishell posted on Instagram, but stopped interacting with them in 2020. The two former co-stars were seen kissing each other in May 2020 outside a clinic in Southern California, and there were some insinuations that Sofia was already seeing Justin even before the divorce, because of the questionable timeline. Apparently, Chrishell refuted the date of their separation on the divorce papers – Justin cited that they were separated since 8 July 2019, but Chrishell said that they only separated on the day he filed the paperwork, which was in November 2019. She said, ‘I feel like anybody would be heartbroken to see how quickly or easily you are replaced; of course, that’s going to sting.’ On the other hand, Justin shared in an interview in July 2020 with “Entertainment Tonight”: ‘I’m a happy guy. I sleep like a baby. I don’t have anything on my mind.’ He and Sofia were revealed to have married in a private ceremony in May 2021, and were seen sporting wedding bands on their fingers during the MTV TV & Movie Awards.

When two beautiful people meet on common ground and are given time to nurture a friendship, it oftentimes blossoms into something more – they became real-life sweethearts as has happened to some co-stars from “Y&R.” Not all of them had a happy ending, but the devoted fans of the show were thrilled just the same, as they felt that they had been part of their love story, because they watched them act in their favorite series. Everyone loves a good romance, just more so if the relationship endures the test of time.

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