Neil Winters was a big part of THE YOUNG & THE RESTLESS ever since the character’s introduction, so any time he was off-screen for even a little while, he was missed by fans. Kristoff St. John originated the role in 1991 and has earned two Daytime Emmy Awards for his work. And he had a lot of dramatic material to play on Y&R over the years. Sadly, with St. John’s death in February 2019, Neil’s story also came to an early end. But the character and actor live on in the memories of those who loved him.
Neil began working at Jabot Cosmetics in 1991 and found himself caught in a complicated love quadrangle. Nathan Hastings and Olivia Barber were engaged, but Drucilla wanted her sister’s man for herself, so she enlisted Neil to woo Olivia away from her beau. He started to fall in love with Olivia, but it was Dru who eventually won his heart and they were married at the Chancellor estate in 1993.
In 1994, Neil’s half-brother, Malcolm Winters, came to town and fell for Dru. While she was groggy from cold medicine, Dru slept with Malcolm and got pregnant, later giving birth to her daughter, Lily. Unsure of which brother was the babydaddy, Dru and Malcolm agreed to let Neil raise the child no matter what the truth. Dru and Neil’s marriage hit the skids when she wanted to be a model and he wanted her to be a mom. They split up and Dru took Lily off to Paris.
Neil grew close to Victoria Newman, and they even got engaged, but never made it down the aisle. He rekindled things with Olivia, and also very nearly had an affair with Malcolm’s fiancée, Alex Perez. After the murder of his best friend, Ryan McNeil, Neil drowned his sorrows in the bottle and his life nearly fell apart completely before he was able to get his alcoholism under control.
In 2002, Dru returned to Genoa City with Lily, and the couple reunited and remarried. After meeting juvenile delinquent Devon Hamilton, Neil and Dru agreed to become his foster parents and eventually adopted him. When Neil learned that Malcolm was Lily’s biological father, he angrily split up with Dru and had an ill-fated affair with Carmen Mesta. During a cliffside photoshoot, Dru fell over the edge and her body was never recovered. Grief drove Neil back to alcohol, but he stopped drinking when he saw how it was hurting Lily.
Neil later dated Karen Taylor, and they agreed to foster Devon’s half-sister, Ana Hamilton. But when Devon’s aunt Tyra Hamilton confessed her feelings for Neil, the two made love, which complicated everything. After Neil’s appeal to the judge, Tyra was granted full custody of Ana, and a frustrated and angry Karen dumped him. Neil tried to pursue a relationship with Tyra, but it turned out she wasn’t really related to Devon at all, and the two slept together!
Neil left Newman Enterprises and accepted the job of CEO of Chancellor Industries. He enjoyed a brief romance with Ashley Abbott, though they ultimately decided to remain friends. Then he fell for Malcolm’s fiancée, Sofia Dupre, and they made love. Although attracted to lawyer Leslie Michaelson, Neil learned that Sofia was pregnant. After Moses was born, Neil was revealed to be his father, so Malcolm divorced Sofia and left town. Neil took her and their son in and they were eventually wed. But Neil’s flirtation with Harmony Hamilton brought about the end of their short-lived marriage.
After Harmony left town, Neil had a fling with Leslie, and when he found himself targeted by someone out for revenge, she helped him discover the truth. He remembered a woman who had died after a night of drinking, and it was her daughter, Hilary Curtis, who was after him for revenge. Neil managed to have a heart-to-heart with her and get Hilary to back down and forgive him. Neil wanted to put a ring on Leslie’s finger, but she was averse to marriage so he ended their relationship.
Neil felt sparks with Hilary and after learning that Leslie had gotten married shortly after their split, he threw himself into a relationship with her. But nobody approved of their union, and only Devon attended their wedding. After Neil was electrocuted, he went blind and asked Devon to take care of Hilary for him. Unfortunately, this led to Hilary and Devon having an affair, which Neil discovered when he had regained his sight and saw them together!
Even after surviving a plane crash, Devon and Neil were at each others’ throats, so Hilary lied that she never loved either of them in the hopes of bringing father and son back together. But when Devon and Hilary married, Neil showed the bride a video he’d shot of the groom with a hooker and she stormed off and went missing. Neil rescued her and kept her captive in a boathouse where he went to extremes to find a way to save her life. She awoke with amnesia, which drew her back to Neil, but when she regained her memories, Hilary reunited with Devon.
Overwhelmed with guilt over his recent actions, Neil publicly admitted his drinking problem and checked himself into rehab. He also had a heartfelt reunion with his estranged mother, Lucinda, shortly before she passed away. Then he and Devon went into business together, launching The Hamilton-Winters Group and getting mixed up in all kinds of corporate intrigue.
Neil was out of the picture for a while, but he came back strong, diving into his work and rekindling a relationship with Ashley that was sadly short-lived as she left town following some massive Abbott family drama. With Lily locked up for her part in Hilary’s death, Neil was shaken, but when his daughter was transferred to a prison farther away, he decided to move to be closer to her. Unfortunately, just as Lily was released early, Neil suddenly passed away in his sleep of an apparent stroke, leaving his family and friends heartbroken.
But Neil will always live on in the hearts of his friends and family who will never forget him. The lounge at the Genoa City Athletic Club was transformed into a new jazz lounge in the spring of 2023 and dedicated to Neil’s memory.