‘The Young and the Restless’ Turns 50: Its 10 Longest-Serving Stars

Melody Thomas Scott, Joshua Morrow, and Kate Linder

Fifty years ago, Bill and Lee Bell came up with a new soap opera to reflect the times, realizing that they couldn’t call the show The Innocent Years as they had planned.

“Lee and I came to an inescapable conclusion when we were creating the show in 1972,” Bill wrote in the book The Young and the Restless: Most Memorable Moments. “We were confronted with the very disturbing reality that young America had lost much of its innocence. Innocence as we had known and lived it all our lives had, in so many respects, ceased to exist. We needed another title, one that reflected the young and mood of the early seventies. Thus was born The Young and the Restless!”

Hitting CBS on March 26, 1973, The Young and the Restless originally focused on the Brooks and Fosters families, but in later years, the spotlight fell on other Genoa City clans, like the Abbotts, the Williamses, and — most notably, perhaps — the Newmans.

And now, half a century later, many of the Young and the Restless actors have appeared in thousands of episodes of the CBS daytime drama.

In honor of the show’s 50th anniversary, here are the Y&R stars who had the highest episode tallies on IMDb a week before the big anniversary.

Michelle Stafford

10. Michelle Stafford (Phyllis Summers): 2,164 episodes

After a years-long break to play Nina Reeves on General Hospital, Stafford returned to The Young and the Restless in 2019. “The very wild thing about it is, it’s been six years since I’ve worked here, and nothing has really changed,” she told Extra at the time. “I think it’s something here at CBS Television City that makes people just ageless. I’m staying.”

Christian Jules LeBlanc

9. Christian Jules LeBlanc (Michael Baldwin): 2,276 episodes

“[Fans] watch the show and have given me a life I didn’t know I could have,” LeBlanc told TV Insider last year, as he reflected on his three-decade tenure on the show. “Because of that and because of acting being brought to me … with their support, I found the thing I needed to do with my life. That’s a great gift to be given. The viewers have kept us all going.”

Amelia Heinle

8. Amelia Heinle (Victoria Newman): 2,369 episodes

Heinle also appreciates the gift Y&R has bestowed. “I don’t miss going out and doing other acting projects. I just love showing up and playing Victoria Newman each day. I just love her,” she told Digital Journal in 2020. “I can change her and make her a little bit different if I want to. Just like people change, the character can change as well. Right now, I am making her a little bit meaner and bitchier just for fun. … I am having so much fun right now, and I don’t want the party to end. It’s so fun, it’s so good, and I love these people I work with. They are like my family.”

Kate Linder

7. Kate Linder (Esther Valentine): 2,540 episodes

Linder confirmed to TV Insider last year that it was her late costar Jeanne Cooper (Katherine Chancellor) who came up with her character’s first name. “Jeanne just called me Esther when we started taping,” she said. “That was actually my grandmother’s name. I don’t think it was that long before the scripts stopped saying ‘Maid’ on them and started saying Esther. Later, there was a national contest in a magazine to choose Esther’s last name. The final choices were Diamond and Valentine. Bill Bell let me choose, and I went with Valentine because my [late] husband Ron and I were married on February 14.”

Sharon Case - The Young and the Restless
Sonja Flemming/CBS

6. Sharon Case (Sharon Newman) 3,142 episodes

Talking to TV Insider in 2016, Case seemed unperturbed about her character’s town pariah status. “It’s a soap opera!” she said. “I have loved all of my storylines. They’ve been challenging and fun, and I have never sat around wishing for something better. … There’s no drama in always being happy or never doing wrong. That’s just not Sharon. If she was always the good girl, I wouldn’t still be here after 22 years.” (Now 29 years!)

Melody Thomas Scott

5. Melody Thomas Scott (Nikki Newman): 3,321 episodes

Scott met her husband, former Y&R executive producer Edward Scott, after joining the show. “I never would have found myself on the path to CBS Television City had I not listened to my agent,” she told TV Insider in 2019. “Soaps weren’t on my radar. Nothing was, actually. … To be guided to this show, and to meet a man who would become my husband and father of my children certainly wasn’t anything I could have predicted or orchestrated. That had to have been ‘meant to be’ and in the stars.”

Joshua Morrow

4. Joshua Morrow (Nicholas Newman): 3,509 episodes

In a 2019 interview with TV Insider, Morrow recalled being introduced to his onscreen parents on his first day on set. “I met Eric [Braeden]. It was brief. He surveyed me up and down. Nick had been a little boy. He was shocked that I was playing his son. He had his eyebrow raised in that imposing way. I thought, ‘He doesn’t even like me!’ Melody [Thomas Scott] said, ‘No, he’ll like you. Just give him the respect he deserves, and everything will be fine.’ Outside of meeting my wife, my wedding day, and the days my kids were born, this was one of the biggest days of my life.”

Peter Bergman

3. Peter Bergman (Jack Abbott): 3,562 episodes

Bergman explained to TV Insider in 2019 how Melody Thomas Scott was the one who proposed that he should play Jack following his All My Children departure. “She was on a trip to Canada with her husband, Ed,” he said. “The show had already tested four or five guys [for Jack] at that point and hadn’t found what they were looking for in a recast. I think my firing was on the cover of every soap magazine. Melody had one with her and said, ‘That’s Jack Abbott.’ Isn’t that just crazy? That’s how it started.”

Doug Davidson

2. Doug Davidson (Paul Williams): 3,915 episodes

For TV Guide Magazine’s ’80s Issue in 2016, Davidson recalled baring his butt on The Young and the Restless. “I was stunned when I found out what Y&R wanted me to do. I called my wife and said, ‘I’ve been working out the wrong muscles at the gym!’” he shared. “Our boss, Bill Bell, was big on realism, but there were complaints from America — especially from people who hadn’t seen it but were offended at the very idea. I think Bill would have had us doing soft porn if they’d allowed it.”

Eric Braeden

1. Eric Braeden (Victor Newman): 3,949 episodes

Braeden “had to learn respect for the medium of soaps,” he revealed to TV Insider last year. “I saw how disrespected actors in daytime were. I think I have had a little something to do with that culture changing. We should all be very proud of what we do. The feeling of second-class citizenship [daytime actors endure] compared to the rest of the industry — why? Daytime is very hard. It is the hardest medium.”