December Surprise on ‘The Young and the Restless’: Judith Chapman Makes a Christmas Eve Visit

Courtesy of CBS
Judith Chapman of The Young and the Restless. Photo courtesy of CBS.

Look who Santa’s dropping off in Genoa City! That scheming, blazingly theatrical matriarch Gloria Bardwell—played by Judith Chapman—is returning to CBS’s The Young and the Restless after a 21-month absence. The character will hit town without warning on Christmas Eve (airing Wednesday, December 21). A show rep tells TV Insider that “the reason for Gloria’s return may not be clear at first but we can count on her stirring up trouble for her sons, Michael and Kevin.” Hmmm…La Chapman is being equally mysterious.

Well, it’s about damn time. Welcome back to the show!
Norma Desmond has returned, dahling! Again. [Laughs]

Hey, a gal can’t have too many returns in life. It’s just not possible!
No it isn’t. I’ve had enough of reality. Give me the soundstage, puh-leeze.

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So what’s Gloria been up to since last we saw her? Clearly, she’s returning at the holidays without her hubby, Jeffrey [Ted Shackelford], so something’s up.
You never know with Gloria. Has she been in jail? Is she a bag lady now? Has she been playing the castanets in Madrid? Do I put the Gloria fingernails back on? Should they be “Jungle Red”? Or perhaps “Black is the New Orange”? [Laughs] All will be revealed!

Hey, you gotta give us something here!
I can tell you that Gloria wants to be reunited with her sons. She has always been led by her heart. That’s why she followed Jeffrey to the ends of the Earth, but it’s time to be with her boys, especially because it’s Christmas. And, of course, Gloria will have the perfect dramatic entrance. She just shows up. Unannounced. Uninvited. Maybe unwelcome.

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I met with the new head writer, Sally Sussman, and found out she’s a big Gloria fan. So, hopefully, this is just the beginning of great things.
This is all such a nice surprise. I had truly made peace with the idea that I would never be called back to the show and that I was going to be a full-time yoga teacher, which is what I’ve been doing lately. I certainly hadn’t stepped away from acting by choice. It was more like there was suddenly no place for me in the evolution of soap operas, or whatever. But, in a way, I’m in show business when I teach yoga. I get up in front of a room full of people and direct them into weird physical states and they do what I say! It’s like my own one-woman show. And I get paid to work out. So I was not sitting by the phone. I had moved on with my life. I’d had a lot of fun doing theater for the last several years but I’d even given up on that. I’d had enough.

Seriously? That doesn’t sound like you.
I did five plays—either directing them or acting in them—in 14 months and I was done. And I meant it! I actually put it on Facebook. “I am done!” And people must have taken me seriously because, since then, my phone has not rung once with anyone wanting me to do a play. That’s what happens when you put it out to the Universe. [Laughs] So now I’m like, “To hell with all of you! I’m going back to Hollywood!”

But you won raves all over the country in your one-woman show about Vivien Leigh. That seemed like a part you could play forever.
It was a wonderful vehicle for me. But once I reached the age when I was older than dear Vivien was when she died, I thought, “It’s time to let the old girl rest.” Both old girls. Her and me! Things have changed so much. I had a meeting with my manager and she said, “Judith, you absolutely must get on social media because that’s how they’re casting roles these days. Producers want the actors with the most followers.” Can you believe that craziness?

Vivien Leigh wouldn’t have made it in show biz today.
No. They had talent then. They had faces then. [Laughs] Now we tweet. So I was done with acting and left my home out in Desert Hot Springs [California] and went traveling throughout Europe and had the most marvelous time. I thought, “This is all I want to do with my life. Travel!” But then one day I’m back home and I’m getting ready to go do a charity event lip-synching contest with [All My Children’s] John Callahan. We were performing “The Lady is a Tramp” with him as Tony Bennett and me as Lady Gaga, and just as I’m accidentally gluing my fingers together trying to put on my false nails, the phone rings and it’s Y&R. [Laughs] It’s Hollywood calling! They want me! And it’s been like manna from Heaven. It is such a kick to be back.