While you might think Susan Lucci had the hardest journey to Daytime Emmy victory, it took Jeanne Cooper 35 years and nine nominations before she won for playing Katharine Chancellor on “The Young and the Restless.” The grande dame of daytime died on May 8 at age 84 after a long illness.
Cooper began on “Y&R” shortly it premiered in 1973. While her character was an instant success, she was only nominated for the first time in 1989. By then, Katherine had been through alcoholism, a couple of husbands, several feuds with Jill Foster Abbot and even a facelift. That latter storyline was groundbreaking as the actress allowed footage of her own facelift to be used.
Prior to even contending at the Daytime Emmys, Cooper had been nominated twice at the Primetime awards: she lost her1962 Supporting Actress nod for “Ben Casey” to Pamela Brown for “Hallmark Hall of Fame” and her 1987 Drama Guest Performer bid for playing the mother of divorce attorney Arnie Becker on “L.A. Law” opposite her real-life son Corbin Bernsen to fellow “L.A. Law” guest Alfre Woodard.
Cooper lost her first Daytime Emmy race for Best Actress in 1989 to Marcy Walker (“Santa Barbara”). She contended for the next three years running only to be defeated by Kim Zimmer (“Guiding Light”), Finola Hughes (“General Hospital”) and Erika Slezak (“One Life to Live”) respectively.
She was not nominated again until 1999, the year Lucci (“All My Children”) finally prevailed. And Cooper lost the following year to Susan Flannery (“The Bold and the Beautiful”).
In 2004, she was one of 10 recipients of a Lifetime Achievement Award alongside Helen Wagner (“As the World Turns”), Don Hastings (“As the World Turns”), Eileen Fulton (“As the World Turns”), Rachel Ames (“General Hospital”), Frances Reid (“Days of our Lives”), Ray McDonnell (“All My Children”), John Clarke (“Days of our Lives”), Ruth Warrick (“All My Children”) and Anna Lee (posthumous for “General Hospital”).
But Cooper was still looking for a competitive win at these kudos so the following year she submitted in supporting only to lose to Natalia Livingston (“General Hospital”). She moved back up to lead and was nominated again in 2007 but Maura West (“As the World Turns”) beat her.
She finally prevailed in 2008. Most experts thought her a long shot as she submitted a reel that didn’t include much range or screen time. But Emmy voters shocked everyone, including Cooper. (Watch her acceptance speech below.)
Even after her victory, she wasn’t finished with the Emmys. Cooper picked up her tenth and final nomination the following year but lost to Susan Haskell (“One Life to Live”).