Kate Linder Reflects on ‘Y&R’s Classic 1991 Masquerade Ball Episode

Kate Linder
Ed McGowan/Plain Joe Studios

To paraphrase her first line on the show: “Birthday cake is served!”

Kate Linder first aired on The Young and the Restless 38 years ago today, April 16, 1982, as Esther Valentine, maid to Jeanne Cooper’s Katherine Chancellor. (Her first line was “Dinner is served!”) Now, Linder has something else to celebrate. Tomorrow, Y&R is airing as a classic episode featuring a costume/masquerade ball that took place at the Colonnade Room. It first aired in October 1991 and won a Daytime Emmy for the show’s late costumer, Greg York.

TV Insider chatted with Linder about performing a musical number in the episode. Also, might the Y&R veteran follow in the footsteps of some of her fellow cast members and write her memoir? And whatever happened to Tiny, her daughter Chloe’s (Elizabeth Hendrickson) father? Read on for the scoop!

What do you recall about the masquerade ball and the different costumes assigned to characters?

Kate Linder: It was fascinating to see all of the characters in different costumes and see them interact with one another, especially the characters who rarely crossed paths otherwise. Greg [York] and everyone in the wardrobe department did an amazing job. Jill (Jess Walton) was perfect as Cleopatra and Mrs. Chancellor (Cooper) was amazing as the Queen of Hearts. I was thrilled that they decided to have Esther, who was still a maid at the time, come to the ball in a French maid outfit.

When was the last time you saw the episode?

I actually haven’t seen it since it originally aired. I am so looking forward to it!

Can you talk about Esther’s performance in the episode?

Bill [Bell, Y&R’s creator and then head writer/senior executive producer] had Esther perform “Everybody Ought to Have a Maid.” Dean Barlow, an Emmy-winning choreographer, put it all together. Mike Denney, who directed that episode, came to Dean’s dance studio – where I still take classes — and worked with us so he would know exactly where to place the cameras. It was a labor of love. [The episodes] took days to tape and people were sleeping in their dressing rooms because we went so late, but it was all worth it.

There was some fan-fiction come to life when Katherine’s maid Esther met Victor’s (Eric Braeden) butler Miguel (Anthony Pena) at the ball. Fans had wanted that to happen! Was the pairing every followed up on in subsequent episodes?

Esther and Miguel did spent time together at the ball, but I always saw them as friends. I imagined they exchanged recipes and talked about their respective bosses. Bill thought the same thing because that was the beginning and end of that potential romance.

Esther’s dressing as a French maid made perfect sense, yet ultimately wasn’t much of a departure.

The French maid costume is exactly what Esther would’ve picked herself. Of course, she would have chosen to be a sexy French maid if she had the chance. Even though Esther now dresses in regular clothes, it would be interesting to see if that outfit still fits. Between the wardrobe and the dance number, it just felt right and in keeping with the character.

Logically, Esther retired her maid’s uniform after she received her inheritance from Katherine. How do you feel about that?

I actually do miss the maid’s outfit because it reminds me of doing scenes with Jeanne. I miss everything that reminds me of the decades we worked together! I will admit that Esther’s current wardrobe is more comfortable and flattering but I will always be nostalgic for the happy times acting opposite Jeanne and when I would see [the late] Bill and Lee [Phillip Bell], who created Y&R, in the office at CBS.

Kate Linder poses at The Young & The Restless 40th anniversary cake-cutting ceremony in 2013 (Mark Davis/Getty Images)

Do you have any special memories of Lee Bell, Y&R’s co-creator (who passed away in February)?

I’ve been very fortunate to have been able to call Lee Bell my friend. She was truly groundbreaking as a journalist and as a woman who kept her maiden name for her eponymous wildly-successful Chicago daily talk show for which she won Emmy Awards galore! Lee was a true innovator for including so many social issue storylines on both Y&R and Bold and the Beautiful.

I will always treasure the memories of spending many Christmases with Lee, first with Ron and later, with my mom. I am so grateful that [Lee] graciously spoke at my Hollywood Walk of Fame Star ceremony along with Jeanne and [Los Angeles] Mayor Villaraigosa. [Lee] always added extra class to every occasion. I’ll never forget the first day I met her and Bill during a set visit when they were still living in Chicago. I remember thinking, “What an incredibly gracious, beautiful, and kind woman.”

Many of your Y&R colleagues have written their memoirs. Have you thought about writing yours?

Yes. In fact, my late husband Ron [Linder, who died in 2017] had already started writing it. He had published several books in his field of expertise previously so, I was excited to do it as a joint project with him. Hopefully, one day I will be able to complete it.

What did you think when Y&R added a portrait of Katherine (Jeanne Cooper) to the Chancellor living room last year?

I was so happy about that. I still feel Jeanne’s presence in the studio. Even though Jill and Esther now own the house, I still feel that it belongs to ‘Mrs. C’ and always will.

Speaking of Jeanne, is it true she just gave you the name “Esther”? How did the surname “Valentine” come about?

One day, Jeanne and I were rehearsing our lines as they were written. When we went to tape, she called me ‘Esther.’ Fortunately, I responded! Other actors then begin referring to me as ‘Esther’ and, eventually, the writers started writing it into the scripts. Later, there was a national contest [in a magazine] to choose what Esther’s last name would be. Bill said I could choose among three of the names that he had chosen [from that contest]. I chose ‘Valentine’ because Valentine’s Day is my wedding anniversary.

What’s the biggest change you’ve seen in terms how of how the show is taped? Were you a part of the “live-to-tape” era?

I’ve been on the show for 38 years and I joined it after the live-to-tape era ended. Y&R has always been efficient, but it is even more so now. We have two stages and it depends on where you are in the schedule as to what time you report to work. You go to either make-up and hair or blocking first. We run lines and then, when it is our turn, we are called to the set. Most of the time we only have one take. It is very fast and furious now.

Are you ever asked about the whereabouts of Tiny, the plumber, aka Chloe’s dad?

Yes. I think it would be very interesting if Chloe‘s father reappeared. Since Esther has not seen or heard from him in over 30 years, he has never met his daughter or grandchildren. He probably doesn’t even know that they exist!

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