Ashland Locke on THE YOUNG & THE RESTLESS (or Bobby DeFranco — we’ll explain later!) had quite the build-up before the guy even arrived in Genoa City. The character first appeared in the March 11, 2021 episode of the soap, played by veteran actor Richard Burgi. But in January 2022, Y&R announced that Burgi had been let go and the role would be recast with GUIDING LIGHT alum Robert Newman, who continued telling Ashland’s story until the character met a violent end!
Ashland Locke is a high-powered businessman from New York City, who has a wife, Tara Locke, and a son, Harrison. He came to Genoa City to do business with the town’s heavy-hitters as he arranged to sell his media company, Cyaxares to the highest bidder. Billy Abbott and Lily Winters were eager to add the business to Chance Comm, and Victor Newman enlisted his son, Adam Newman, to join him in a bid for the company. But then Victoria Newman stepped in to throw her own hat into the ring in an attempt to stop Victor from using Cyaxares as a weapon to destroy Billy.
Complicating things immeasurably is the fact that Ashland seems blissfully unaware that Harrison may not be his son. He definitely doesn’t know that his wife had an affair with Kyle Abbott years ago because based on his reputation, he would have handily destroyed both of them for their transgression! And Tara did finally confess to Kyle that he is Harrison’s real father.
Ashland arrived in Genoa City and mistook Kyle for the hotel porter briefly before introductions were made. He then entertained offers from the three parties as he contemplated his decision. Ultimately, Ashland chose to sell Cyaxares to Victor and Adam, and left for New York with Tara, though not before witnessing a heated exchange between his wife and Kyle!
When Ashland returned to Genoa City, he was enraged and it was clear that he and Tara were on the outs. He taunted Billy and Victoria about possibly selling them his company and attempted to back out of the deal with Victor, but suffered a heart attack! Victor forced him to sign the contract on the sale before he’d dial 911 for help, and Ashland later was taken to the hospital where he was given a pacemaker.
Ashland returned to Genoa City following Tara, who had left him after he confronted her about her affair with Kyle. Kyle revealed that the paternity test proved he wasn’t Harrison’s father, but Ashland vowed to fight for the boy he had raised with everything he had. Meanwhile, he found himself cozying up to Victoria, much to the dismay of her family.
Eventually, Ashland confessed he’d been diagnosed with advanced small cell lung carcinoma to Victoria and then Tara and Kyle — adding he’d cut Tara out of his will! Victoria urged him to seek treatment as they prepared to merge their companies, but he continued to decline, even as his symptoms worsened. Concerned, Victoria invited Ashland to move in with her as their relationship continued to deepen and she accepted his marriage proposal.
As Ashland began treatment, not everyone believed he was really sick and both Billy and Nick Newman dug around hoping to uncover some secret that would derail the wedding. Ashland allowed Kyle to move to Europe with Harrison as long as he could maintain contact with the boy. With suspicions mounting, Ashland finally came clean and admitted that he’d changed his identity to Ashland Locke years ago but would give no further details. He even continued paying off a lawyer who was threatening to reveal the truth! But after Nick uncovered some information in New Jersey, Ashland finally told Victoria that he was really Bobby DeFranco and Ashland Locke was his friend who had died in a car crash. After the accident, he stole his friend’s identity to escape his abusive father and start a new life.
However, that wasn’t the only secret Ashland was keeping! After Camila Rhodes took him under her wing and treated her like a son, he was left nothing in her will when she died. So he and her lawyer altered her will so Ashland would inherit her entire estate so he could buy her media companies and launch his own empire. Victoria was shaken, but agreed to still marry him. Friends and family gathered in Tuscany for the nuptials, and uninvited guest Jesse Gaines threatened to spoil everything by exposing Ashland’s secrets. In the end, the couple wed, and Gaines later recanted his accusations so Locke could sue Billy and ChanceComm for libel!
Ashland’s experimental cancer treatments appeared to be working, and Victoria was relieved. However, the pair continued butting heads over business matters and a suspicious Victor had Michael Baldwin investigate the Peruvian clinic to find out what was really going on! When it was revealed that Ashland had been funding the clinic, he confessed to that, but when Michael found proof the treatments were a sham, Ashland claimed he’d been set up. Victoria took her husband’s side and made him co-CEO of Newman, and he also arranged for Michael and the doctors to be “taken care of.” Nate Hastings was horrified to hear his supposed friend had lied about having cancer and after checking Ashland’s medical records to find proof, exposed his entire charade!
When Michael managed to escape and return to Genoa City, Ashland grew concerned. But he was relieved when Victoria appeared to believe him and suggested that Adam could be behind the set-up. He was stunned when Adam came to him with an offer of $500 million to sign away both Newman-Locke and his marriage to Victoria, but ultimately decided to sign, believing he and Victoria could make a fresh start outside of Genoa City. Unfortunately, she had been stringing him along and after learning he was out of the business, told him she’d been lying just like he had been and their relationship had been over for a while!
Ashland followed a distraught Victoria as she drove down the road in the fog and when she crashed her car, he was able to rescue her before it caught fire and exploded. He took her to a nearby cabin and later reported that the other driver involved in the crash, Rey Rosales, had died. Although Victoria’s family was begrudgingly grateful to Ashland for saving her life, he was still persona non grata around town. However, Ashland was stunned when Victoria confessed to him that she really did love him and wanted to try and make it work!
Eventually, Victoria turned her back on her family and joined Ashland in traveling to New York City where they planned to start their own business together. However, Ashland was stunned when Victoria stole his money out from under him and informed him she’d been faking it to take revenge on him. However, he wasn’t done yet, and followed her back to Genoa City looking to make Victoria pay for her deception! But when he confronted his ex and got physical, Nick showed up and punched Ashland, knocking him into the fireplace! Although they believed him dead, Nick and Victoria were shocked when his body disappeared! Ashland was later found in his car at the bottom of a ravine, a cover-up arranged by Victor and Michael. Chance Chancellor was determined to uncover the truth behind Ashland’s demise, though he eventually let it go.