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Katherine Chancellor on THE YOUNG & THE RESTLESS — Her Life and Legacy

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Katherine Chancellor passed away on THE YOUNG & THE RESTLESS back in 2013, but her presence is still felt in Genoa City to this day. For newer viewers who might not be aware of her epic history — or those who simply want a refresher — we’re happy to help. Katherine first appeared in 1973 and was played by actress Jeanne Cooper for pretty nearly her entire run. (Beverly Garland, Gisele MacKenzie, and Michael Learned all filled in briefly at various times.) For her work on Y&R, Cooper received 10 Daytime Emmy Award nominations, taking home the trophy for Outstanding Lead Actress in 2008. She also received a Lifetime Achievement Emmy Award in 2004.

Katherine and Phillip Chancellor‘s marriage was on the rocks due to her drinking and his affair with Jill Foster. When Jill got pregnant, Phillip left Katherine and got a divorce. She tried to win him back but drove their car off a cliff, and Phillip died after a deathbed wedding to Jill. Shaken, Katherine got sober but was later tricked into marriage by Derek Thurston. Kay was drugged by his ex-wife and put in a sanitarium, then was presumed dead in a fire! She showed up alive to interrupt Derek’s wedding to Jill to reclaim her fortune and her husband. Although she put Derek in charge of Chancellor Industries, when the company faltered, she hired Victor Newman to take over.

Y&R Cast Photo 1974 — CBS/Getty
The cast of Y&R in 1974.CBS via Getty Images

While on a cruise to salvage their marriage, Katherine gave up and jumped overboard, being rescued by Filipe Ramirez, with whom she fell in love. After getting a facelift, Kay romanced Brent Davis, who wanted to tell Ashley Abbott he was her real father before he died. A furious Dina Mergeron tried to kill Brent but shot Kay instead! After exposing Jack Abbott‘s affair with Jill, Katherine was one of the prime suspects when Jill was shot. After Phillip Chancellor III‘s death in 1989, Katherine and Jill teamed up to take custody of Phillip “Chance” Chancellor IV from Nina, but lost. Jill hired con man Rex Sterling to romance Kay and steal her fortune, but the pair actually fell in love for real!

Rex’s former cellmate, Clint Radison, found Katherine’s look-alike, Marge Cotroke, and swapped the two women. Upset by “Kay’s” changed behavior, Rex divorced her for Jill, but Katherine’s son, Brock Reynolds, helped rescue his mother and expose the scheme. Katherine and Rex eventually married, and they even pretended to be the servants so her maid, Esther Valentine, could impress the man she loved. Norman managed to get Esther written into Katherine’s will, but couldn’t wait and decided to just steal the money. Rex interrupted his crime and was shot and killed by Esther’s beau.

The Young and The Restless Katherine Jill
Shouting was just how Kay and Jill communicated.Jesse Grant/JPI

In 1998, Jill discovered a letter leaving the Chancellor mansion to her and tried to evict Katherine, but the women were instead forced to share the house. Despondent, Kay left town and after being robbed, was taken in by a homeless girl, Mac, who turned out to be her granddaughter via Brock. Katherine returned to Genoa City and reunited with her family. Jill and Kay were stunned when they were led to believe they were mother and daughter but eventually came to form a bond. Nightmares about giving away a baby led to the introduction of Cane Ashby, who was believed to be the real Phillip Chancellor III for a time.

While driving Marge to rehab, Katherine was in a car accident, and the two women were mixed up in the crash with Katherine being presumed dead. But Kay was rescued by Marge’s friend, Patrick Murphy, and when she regained her memories, convinced him to bring her home. Jill believed her to be Marge, and a DNA test seemed to prove her suspicion when it indicated they weren’t related. But when a later test proved Katherine’s relation to Brock, Jill and Kay realized they weren’t mother and daughter after all.

Katherine married Murphy, after which it was revealed that Cane was hired by the real Phillip Chancellor III to fake his death because he was gay. Kay became an ordained minister in order to officiate at Amber and Daniel Romalotti’s wedding. Her company was also the victim of a hostile takeover by Tucker McCall, who turned out to be Kay’s son. Learning Tucker had been looking for his own son, Katherine did some digging of her own, and discovered that Devon Hamilton was his long-lost child. When Tucker stole Jabot from Katherine, she suffered a stroke and Devon’s paternity was revealed. Upset with Tucker’s scheming, Kay wrote him out of her will and gave his share to Devon instead.

The Young and The Restless Katherine Murphy
Katherine’s trip with her husband proved her final adventure.Howard Wise/jipstudios.com

When Jack stole Neil Winters away from Chancellor, Katherine came out of retirement to run her company again, but memory lapses led to the diagnosis of a brain tumor. Thankfully, surgery was successful and the tumor was benign, but Kay stepped down and put Cane in charge of the business. She and Murphy left on a lengthy vacation visiting locations on their bucket lists, and on August 1, Murphy reported that Kay had died in her sleep.

Katherine may be gone, but she certainly isn’t forgotten by anyone who knew her, and her legacy lives on to this day.

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