John Abbott on THE YOUNG & THE RESTLESS was such a beloved character that he continued to appear even after his death. The character first appeared on the soap in 1980 and was played by Brett Halsey until Jerry Douglas took over in 1982 and continued to portray the Abbott patriarch on Y&R until his death in 2006. He then continued to make appearances in the years that followed, until Douglas passed away in 2021.
John Abbott ran Jabot Cosmetics and was the father to three children, Jack Abbott, Ashley Abbott, and Traci Abbott. (Although it was later revealed that Ashley’s biological father was Brent Davis, John went to his grave never knowing the truth.) Jack often butted heads with his father over business deals and he also didn’t approve when John got involved with younger woman Jill Foster and eventually married her. When Jack also had an affair with Jill, photos of the pair together caused John to have a stroke. When he recovered, John divorced Jill and fired Jack from Jabot, replacing him with Brad Carlton.
John had brief relationships with Joanna Manning and Ellen Winters, but put his love life aside when Ashley disappeared. He found her in a mental institution in New York suffering from amnesia and brought her home to recover. John next became involved with Christine’s mother, Jessica, who was keeping secret that she was dying from AIDS. Learning the truth, John still married her until her husband came to town and he nobly stepped down. But John was among Jessica’s loved ones when she passed away.
After John took Jabot public, Victor Newman took over and the shock gave John a heart attack, so Jack stepped in to try and get the family business back. John reconciled with Jill and they were remarried in 1993. Despite John protesting he was too old, Jill wanted a baby and got pregnant before he could have his vasectomy. She refused his request she get an abortion and gave birth to William Billy Foster Abbott. Although John grew to love his son, he divorced Jill when she cheated on him. He rekindled things with first wife Dina Mergeron when she came to Genoa City, but she soon left town again. John won custody of Billy and temporarily moved to New York to raise him.
John came home to Genoa City with a teenaged Billy and joined the family in maintaining control of Jabot. He began dating Gina Roma and took in his troubled granddaughter Colleen Carlton for a time. In 2004, John became smitten with Gloria Fisher and when they came back from a cruise, they were man and wife. Jack didn’t mind as long as his father was happy, but Ashley refused to accept her new stepmother. When John found out that Michael and Kevin were her sons, he felt deceived and demanded a divorce but fell down a flight of stairs and required hip replacement surgery. As Gloria nursed John back to health, he soon forgave her. He also fired Ashley as CEO and took over Jabot himself until a proper replacement could be found.
Gloria tricked John into giving her large sums of money he thought were going towards Michael’s wedding but were really blackmail payments to her ex-husband, Tom Fisher. When John found out, he met Tom instead of Gloria, and during their struggle, his gun went off and Tom was killed. John drove off and got into an accident so he had no memory of that night. Ashley tried confessing to Tom’s murder but when John remembered the truth, he took the blame and went to prison. Unfortunately, just before he was due to be pardoned, John suffered a serious stroke and was left in a vegetative state. As he’d signed a DNR, John’s family abided by his wishes and said farewell as he passed away.
The Abbotts continued to freeze Gloria out, giving her the wrong time for the funeral and holding a small gathering for close family. They were also appalled to learn that Gloria had inherited 50% of John’s estate, but it later turned out John had written Gloria out of his will, and their marriage was invalid anyway because she’d never legally divorced Tom. In subsequent years, John’s spirit has visited his family, usually as Jack’s conscience, offering his son advice and counsel. Although he did also appear to Ashley in 2015 when she suffered a brain aneurysm.