‘Young & the Restless’ Star Eric Braeden on Taking Time Off & His Feelings on Eileen Davidson’s Exit

Victor (Eric Braeden) and Nikki Newman (Melody Thomas Scott) in Young and the Restless
Sonja Flemming/CBS

Even moguls need a vacation. That’s why Eric Braeden is taking the month of September off from playing Victor Newman on The Young and the Restless, daytime TV’s top-rated soap.

TV Insider chatted with the Emmy-winning actor on why he’s temporarily vacating his role on the CBS sudser, the passing of Y&R super-fan Aretha Franklin, which cast member he thinks has the charisma and talent to hit the big screen, and the show losing Eileen Davidson – aka Victor’s “beautiful Ashley.”

Read on to get the scoop from the mustached mogul himself!

You presented at the Daytime Emmys in 2005 alongside the late Aretha Franklin for Best Drama Series.

Eric Braeden: Yes. Aretha was a huge fan of Y&R’s. I was very sorry to hear of her passing. She had such a hard time at the end.

You could tell when she read the nominees that Y&R was her favorite just by the way she said it. Do you have a favorite performance of hers?

When I saw her singing “Nessun Dorma,” an aria from Puccini’s “Turandot,” I was so moved. I was moved to tears. That’s the signature piece for Luciano Pavarotti, and for her to sing it so well was just extraordinary. I was very honored that she was a fan of the show.


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RIP Aretha Franklin – super talent and super Soap fan.It is no secret that Aretha Franklin loved @youngandrestlesscbs , so it should come as no surprise that she grabbed the opportunity to present the Y&R montage at the 1997 Daytime Emmys. She also availed herself to present the award for Outstanding Daytime Drama Series at the 2005 Daytime Emmys. Of course, the deal was made just that much sweeter as she co-presented the last award of the evening with one of her favorite soap opera characters, Victor, played by #ericbraeden Franklin and Braeden were introduced as the #queenofsoul and the #kingofhearts. #arethafranklin #daytimeemmys #yandr #youngandrestless #soaps #civilrightsactivist #rockandroll

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Victor trying to take Christian away from Nicholas (Joshua Morrow) has catapulted him into this whole Dark Horse story. What do you think of that?

It’s a very nice storyline for Joshua. He deserves it. He’s one of the few actors I’ve always said could go on to have a career in nighttime and film. He has what it takes. I’m very glad he has this storyline where he sits in a powerful chair.

He’s one of the few people who can stand up to Victor as he did when he blasted him for initially taking custody of his son.

He’s wonderful! He’s wonderful in all these stories. [Nick’s love for Christian] is a real thing to play. [Joking] I would never, ever do that as a grandfather in real life!

(Monty Brinton/CBS)

How’s the family?

Good. My son, Christian [Gudegest] has a film out, Den of Thieves [which he produced, wrote, and directed]. It’s successful. He’s now working on about three or four different projects. It all depends on which one is greenlit first. He’s doing awesome.

You’re taking a trip to Germany. Why? And why for a whole month!

It is the 60th anniversary of [my] winning the German Youth Championship. I was javelin, discus, and shot put champion. I’m seeing some of my fellow athletes for the first time in 60 years!

How are they going to handle Victor while you’re away for a month? Pre-tape and post-tape or will Victor go on a business trip?

I have no idea!

Well, fans would never accept a temporary replacement. There will have to something to get you off the canvas.

That is very nice [to hear]. We take very few vacations in daytime because the show is on every week. Going for two weeks is just not worth it [when you add in] travel time and jet lag. It’s just not worth it. I’m going to visit relatives and friends while I’m there.


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Victor’s true love is, of course, Nikki (Melody Thomas Scott), but the dynamic Victor has with Ashley (Eileen Davidson) is undeniable.

Let me put it this way: I’m very sad, very sad that there has not been more of a storyline within the last few years [with Victor and Ashley]. Their relationship was never fully consummated. That is the one regret I have is that it was not picked up over the last few years. I think Eileen is enduringly beautiful, an interesting actress, very real. So, I think [Ashley] should have visited him when he was in prison, without words. She and I never need to say anything to each other.

Eric Braeden and Eileen Davidson on ‘Young and the Restless’ in 2008 (Sonja Flemming/CBS)

When Eileen came back to the show in 1999, she’d been gone for 10 years and two other actresses had played Ashley – yet you two picked up like no time had passed at all.

I agree.

Perhaps Eileen – who isn’t even gone yet – may be back again someday?

Who knows? I adore working with her. That is all. I adore her.

Young and Restless, weekdays, CBS