What happened to the original core Young and the Restless families: the Brooks and the Fosters
It’s crazy that there are viewers who have been tuning to The Young and the Restless since it debuted on television on March 26, 1973. Long time fans know that before the Newmans and the Abbotts, there were the Fosters and the Brooks. Originally titled the Innocent Years, The Young and the Restless centered on the two core families: the wealthy Brooks and the working class Fosters. Given Y&R’s long history, many fans may not even know that there was a time before Victor Newman. So today, we’re taking a look at the history of the original families of the Young and the Restless.
The Fosters and the Brooks
When the Young and the Restless began, the stories were both traditional and revolutionary. While the slow pace of storytelling and focus on only a few characters remained true to the earliest days of soap opera, it was new for a soap to talk about the sexual side of romances. William Gray Espy, who played Snapper Foster on Y&R, was the first to discover sex on a soap opera.
Snapper was the son of Bill and Liz Foster and was studying to be a doctor when Y&R began. The character juggled feelings for Chris Brooks, the daughter of newspaper mogul Stuart Brooks, and Sally McGuire, a waitress. His sister, Jill Foster, dreamed of becoming a fashion model while working at a beauty salon to put her two brothers through college.
The storylines, which focused on explicit sexual themes, far exceeded anything seen on daytime before. Jill and her mother, Liz, both ended up having an affair with Stuart Brooks. Jill and Stuart got married after she tricked him into believing that she was pregnant with his child. When the truth of the fake pregnancy came to light, he divorced her and went back to Liz.
Bell also explored social issues on the show under the guidance of his wife and co-creator. Lee Bell was a renowned talk show host who investigated rarely considered social problems on her show, The Lee Phillip Show. Stuart’s first wife, Jennifer Brooks, underwent the first mastectomy on a soap opera and other social issues like alcoholism and cancer were also included. The rivalry between Stuart’s daughters, Leslie and Lorie, was also one of the significant storylines that existed on the show then.
Why the original Y&R cast was replaced
Speaking of rivalries, after the character of Katherine Chancellor was introduced in 1973, her chaotic relationship with Jill Foster went on to become the longest running feud in the history of American soap operas. The Chancellors have also been a part of the Young and the Restless since the 70s. Jill and Katherine’s rivalry began when Jill slept with Katherine’s husband Phillip Chancellor II and got pregnant.
After Espy left in 1975, then-unknown actor David Hasselhoff took over the role of Snapper. It would be his first major TV role and he played the character for six years. Hasselhoff’s decision to quit Y&R was one of the major factors that led to Bell writing out the Foster family. After CBS lengthened the soap from half hour to an hour in 1980, several of the original cast members left since it was not a part of their contracts. Jaime Lyn Bauer, who portrayed Leslie Brooks, was one of the last original actors to leave, after which Bell decided to replace the original families.
Katherine-Jill feud helped ease transition to new families
In the early eighties, Bell succeeded in shifting the show’s focus from its original core families to a completely new set of characters. He decided to build new families around the relatively insignificant characters Paul Williams and Jack Abbott. Terry Lester was still playing the Abbott playboy then.
By the time the Brooks and the Fosters storylines were wrapped up, the Newmans and the Abbotts were firmly established. Meanwhile, the ongoing feud between Jill and Katherine provided some continuity for the viewers. Snapper returned to Y&R in 2010 with his mother, who on her deathbed revealed that Jill is the daughter of Neil Fenmore. As you know, Jill is the only remaining Foster still living in Genoa City.
Hope you enjoyed the short history lesson on the Young and the Restless. Let us know in the comments how long you’ve been watching the show for!