It's a sad day for soap opera fans. Veteran actress Jeanne Cooper, who played Katherine Chancellor on The Young and the Restless for nearly four decades, has died. She was 84.
The soap icon's son, Corbin Bernsen, revealed the sad news via Facebook on Wednesday, May 8. "My mother passed away this morning just a short time ago, peaceful with my sister by her side, in her sleep," he wrote. "I was going to visit this afternoon, thought I had time. Reminder to self -- time is a precious thing."
The Psych actor and former L.A. Law star, 58, had been a frequent presence at his mother's bedside in recent weeks, ever since she was hospitalized for an unspecified illness in April. "I said my goodbyes several times over," he wrote. "I'll go one last time now for a gentle kiss, a final farewell for this lifetime."
Bernsen added that he believed Cooper's legacy would live on long after her death. "She has been a blaze her entire life...And while her light finally gave into the wind that gives flight to all our journeys, there will always be a glimmer left behind by what she stood for," he said, later noting that at the moment she died, he was listening to "Everlasting Light" by the Black Keys.
"I will speak about that more in coming days, months, I suppose," he continued. "I will certainly dedicate what remains of my life to continue her purpose of honesty, equality, humility, empathy, and love. So many of you have said your prayers for her and right now, today, I can say the best way to honor her is to inhabit your lives with those things she stood for."
Sony Pictures Television president Steve Mosko also expressed sadness over the soap star's passing. "Jeanne Cooper was a legend in daytime and a beloved member of our Y&R family," he told Us Weekly in a statement. "She touched the lives of millions who watched her every day over the past 40 years. We send our sincerest condolences to her family as we also celebrate her wonderful life."
Born in California in 1928, Cooper performed in local theater productions until getting her big break in the 1953 film The Redhead From Wyoming, starring Maureen O'Hara. She later went on to appear with Tony Curtis in 1968's The Boston Strangler and with Frank Sinatra in 1967's Tony Rome before joining The Young and the Restless in 1973. As the soap's longest-tenured cast member, she earned 11 Daytime Emmy nominations and a win for Best Actress in a Drama Series in 2008. She also received a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2004.
Cooper was married to Harry Bernsen for 30 years until their divorce in 1977. The couple had three children, Corbin, Caren, and Collin.