'Y&R's Beth Maitland Looks Back on Key Moments for the Abbott Family

THE YOUNG & THE RESTLESS
Q&A
CBS

It’s appropriate that fan favorite Beth Maitland (Traci Abbott) appears in all five classic episodes of Young and the Restless this week, all focusing on the Abbott clan. Today, June 2, the family celebrates winning back control of the family business, Jabot Cosmetics, from Victor Newman (Eric Braeden).

In the June 3-airing episode, Traci squares off against her big sister Ashley Abbott (Eileen Davidson) over family dynamics related to Brad Carlton (Don Diamont, now Bill on Bold and the Beautiful) and his and Traci’s daughter Colleen (Lyndsy Fonseca). On Thursday, June 4, the Abbotts bid a tearful (sob!) farewell to patriarch John Abbott (Jerry Douglas). And the week wraps up on June 5 with the family celebrating Christmas when Kyle (Michael Mealor) and Lola (Sasha Calle) were in happier times as newlyweds.

(The Abbott family-themed week kicked off Monday, June 1 with Brad and Traci’s second wedding from 1991, which can be viewed on CBS.com.) Below, Maitland looks back on key moments for the Abbott family, and Traci's relationships with Brad, Ashley, Lauren, and more.

Traci and Brad's wedding (CBS)

The Abbotts getting control of Jabot back is pretty big. What does it mean for Traci who, until recently, never truly played a big role in the family business?

Beth Maitland: Traci is, of course, happy for her family. But you’re right in that she’d only recently been directly involved with the company when there were problems between Jack (Peter Bergman) and Ashley. What’s interesting is that Traci is the only Abbott whom Victor has consistently liked. She hasn’t broke his heart as Ashley has or been his business rival like Jack has been.

On Wednesday, tensions rise between Ashley (now wed to Brad) and Traci because Brad’s doting on Traci and Colleen (Lyndsy Fonseca) a little too much.

Yes. There was tension because Colleen, who had been living with Traci and [her then husband] Steve [Greg Wrangler] in New York, was now in Genoa City. She was trying to be independent and she was becoming reckless. She was acting out and was being defiant. The tension [in this episode] comes from Traci seeing her daughter in Brad’s home.

CBS

Before Brad died, while saving Noah (Kevin Schmidt) from drowning in an icy lake, he and Traci had a really nice talk at the Genoa City Athletic Club. Brad said that Traci was the one who got away. Soap fans live for moments like that.

I can tell you we did not know [Don would be leaving the show so soon after that]. That scene was so revelatory. To have the opportunity — decades after we first started working together — to do a scene like that and bring things full circle? That doesn’t get to happen anywhere else but on daytime.

Some viewers were waiting for Brad and Traci to reunite. Many felt they were each other’s OTP – “one true pairing.”

There’s always that longing. I’m not sure about Brad as he had many other pairings – Ashley, Lauren (Tracey Bregman), Cassandra Rawlins (Nina Arvesen) – but Traci definitely saw him as the one who got away. After they split up, she went on with her life and tried to find some sort of happiness. I’ve learned in my own life that you can only be responsible for yourself. You cannot control anybody else’s choices, feelings, or decisions. You can only be true to yourself. This is what defines us – how we deal with circumstances over which we have no control!

CBS

Brad and Traci’s wedding, which can be seen here, wasn’t a huge blowout in terms of guests, but it was still a nice throwback to the lavish weddings that Y&R is known for!  

I’ve watched nearly all of these classic episodes and they’ve reminded me of things that I’ve completely forgotten. I’m just as thrilled, as the lion’s share of our fans are, to be enjoying these shows. We’re seeing a style very unique to the show – the pace, the ripple effect of how story points and revelations would affect the entire community. There were builds of arcs that spanned months. We could tell stories that way. Today, pace, demands, and expectations have all changed, but my gosh, we’re getting to see some special glory days with these classic re-airings.

How many times were Brad and Traci married?

Twice. The first time was in the 1980s. This second wedding was way more fun for me and interesting and multilayered. This one hit closer to home. It wasn’t all that teenage stuff. It was more adult. I got to spend time with my darling Don. He remains such a good friend. I admire him and love him so much. He’s a remarkable guy, an amazing father, and caretaker of others. His work has grown tremendously. I love to see that. And I love running into him in the hallway at the studio!

Recently, I was going through a box of old photos and came across some of Don and I appearing on Circus of the Stars, which aired on CBS. Don and I were living our personal bests. We were having fun both on and off-camera. Our lives were full of promise and opportunity. I made [my daughter] Emelia stop what she was doing and look at the photographs – one of which was Don standing on a horse!

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On Thursday, we have John’s passing. The tensions between his children and his new wife Gloria (Judith Chapman) were quite intense.

Poor Traci was in and out around this time so, I wasn’t involved with any of the buildup to this particular story. It can be challenging for an actor who isn’t there for the build, but I felt absolutely honest and connected to everyone as John was mourned.

I think the two most significant loses to the Abbotts were John and Brad especially when you add in how the rest of Genoa City was affected. Losing them was, in my opinion, a mistake. Bill Bell [Y&R’s creator/headwriter/sr. executive producer] once told me that it’s not what happens to you when [story developments] occur – it’s about what happens to everybody else in the long term. Sometimes choices are made but, in both of those cases, I thought they were tragic losses.

I think Y&R fans would agree whole-heartedly. On Friday’s show, which aired in December 2019, we see newlyweds Kyle and Lola in happier times. Plus, Dina (Marla Adams) is able to spend the holidays with her family.

Yes. We have ‘new’ Abbotts in this episode with Kyle and Billy (Jason Thompson), even though they’ve been on the show for years. But they feel new and they’re making such a significant contribution to the continuation of the Abbott family. I’m thrilled we get to see all of these newer faces this week, too. They’re all fantastic!

Also, earlier in the week, we got to see Dina [at the wedding] when she was much younger. This was a chance for viewers to see why Dina is so important to the family and why her decline has [affected] the family. Viewers got to see Dina in action. That was a lot of fun. Dina had a friendship with Kay Chancellor (Jeanne Cooper) and was in competition with Jill (Jess Walton). This is a chance for viewers to see Dina when she was fierce!

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This is the 35th anniversary of when you won your Emmy. Do you have any memories of that day?

That moment is frozen in time for me. I remember where I was, who I was with… the ceremony was at the Waldorf Astoria in New York. All the nominees were at banquet tables. I was setting right next to Terry Lester [then Jack]. I remember what I was wearing. I remember losing my shoe going up the stars! My acting teacher, Patricia George, later said to me, ‘Beth! That was your Cinderella moment.’ That actually changed everything in terms of how I felt about it.

Later in the show, Kim Zimmer (Reva, Guiding Light) took both of her shoes off and threw them up into the air when she went up on stage [after winning Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series]! It was a weird setup [at the Waldorf]. We were on a carpet in the room, but then we had to walk up some slippery stairs. They were temporary and not too stable. Nowadays, they have someone standing there to help winners up the stairs.

There was a scene a while back when Lauren and Traci happened to be crossing paths and there was a real nice exchange when Lauren apologized for her past treatment of Traci.

Yes. Lauren had just come from seeing Phyllis (Michelle Stafford) and Traci was going to see her for some reason. They passed each other and that’s when Lauren apologized. Traci accepted it. I would love to have seen that be explored more.

Tracy Bregman-Recht as Lauren Fenmore and Beth Maitland as Traci Abbott on Young and the Restless
(CBS Photo Archive)

It’d be nice if the show had you both sparring again over someone.

Even having a temporary story would be so much fun to play. We’d get to show how we’ve grown. Lauren’s no longer the ‘mean girl’ and Traci is no longer the pushover. There’s been a great deal of change.

Any final thoughts about this Abbott-themed week?

I have been so impacted by the very good fortune of what I thought was just a brief three-month visit to a daytime drama when I was 24-years-old. It’s turned into 38 years and has informed me, shaped my life, provided so many blessings and grace to both my family and myself. It’s been such a huge part of making me who I am.

I am so grateful to every single person who has been a part of the Abbott family and made it not only their professional business, but also their personal goal to make a connection. We’ve put our hearts and souls into this. I hope this week reminds people and shows them how grateful we are and how much fun we’ve had. It’s been an absolute blast to have been an Abbott all this time. The future looks bright. It’s not over yet!

Young and the Restless, Weekdays, CBS