Four decades ago, on April 8, 1982, Katherine Chancellor’s maid made her first appearance and on May 20 and 23, 2022, Kate Linder will be celebrating her 40th anniversary playing Esther Valentin on THE YOUNG & THE RESTLESS with a pair of very special episodes! “The first one is a sort of retrospective,” the veteran actress told Soaps In Depth. “I love it. You’ll see flashbacks from years ago with Esther. It’s really, really great.
“And then the second one,” she teased, “there’s another character, a role being played by Sam McMurray, who’s an excellent actor and you’ll totally recognize him. So I’m thrilled to be working with him. These are great episodes. I’m really excited about them. I can’t wait to see them myself! I loved taping them.”
Although her first day walking onto the Y&R set was 40 years ago, Linder remembers it like it was yesterday, including meeting the late Jeanne Cooper (Katherine) for the very first time. “She was in makeup and I walked up to her,” she recalled. “I went up to her chair and introduced myself and told her that I would be playing her maid today. And she looked at me and just said, ‘Well, it’s about time!’ as only Jeanne could do.”
After wrapping her day of work, she was approached by producer Ed Scott who asked if she would be available to come back for another episode. This led to a recurring role and later a contract with the soap, but initially, Linder didn’t expect it to last that long. “I would get called in every so often and be playing this character,” she confided with a chuckle, “and then I would go around when I was finished that day and thank everyone because I thought I’m probably never going to see them again!
“And one day, after doing this so many times, Patty Denney, who is the head of hair and makeup, said to me, ‘You know, Kate, I don’t think you need to go around thanking everybody every time you work now,’” Linder laughed. “So after that, I sort of said, ‘Well, good, I guess I’m going to be here for a while.”
Originally, Linder’s character didn’t even have a name! “Jeanne named me Esther,” she revealed. “And we had a national contest for the last name and so [Y&R co-creator] Bill Bell gave me a couple of names to choose from and picked Valentine as the last name. Quite a while after, I was put on contract. It’s so hard to believe that here we are 40 years later — I like to say this part, especially — 40 years and counting later. It’s just unbelievable.”
In addition to the special episodes of Y&R coming up, fans of Linder’s who happen to be in the Los Angeles area can also enjoy a look at her past on the soap with a special display at the Hollywood Museum! “They have an exhibit there of my very first uniform,” the actress marveled, “my first two scripts are there. There’s a huge picture of Jeanne and I. They actually have a tape of different interviews going and everything. It’s really, really great. Oh! Also, my duster’s there! Had to have the duster!”
Even after four decades — and counting! — on Y&R, Linder still considers every day at the set a gift. “I’ve never once and even to this day don’t take it for granted,” she declared. “I’m really proud of our show and I’m so honored to be part of it. So I look forward to every day that I can do that.”