From her early childhood years in Taft, CA, to her teens in Stockton, CA, the road to Hollywood took some circuitous turns for Wilma Jeanne Cooper. In her memoir Not Young, Still Restless: A Memoir, she describes her family life in some detail. With a father who worked the oil fields and a mother who religiously attended a church with many rules and regulations, but who changed significantly in the years before her death when Jeanne was just a teenager, Jeanne could have felt neglected. But she saw the positives in her situation, emphasizing the laughter she shared with her father and how her mother believed her unconditionally when she reported two incidents of molest during her younger years.
Her desire to act on the stage in New York was diverted slightly and she worked in community theater for awhile before some friends took matters into their own hands and “moved” her to LA. Her early years in movies earned satisfaction and some acclaim, but ultimately led her to her longest career journey to-date: as the Grand Dame Katherine Chancellor in the award winning soap opera Young and the Restless.
As a fan of that very soap, Katherine Chancellor (and therefore Jeanne Cooper), are like family members to me. Soap fans understand this feeling of connection we all have to our soap characters.
And in her friendly narrative voice, Jeanne sounds like she is chatting with the reader as she addresses us as if we are having a conversation.
Learning about the ins and outs of the show where she began in 1973 lent a bit more magic to the world I see from Monday through Friday in my own home. I loved hearing about the personalities of my favorite stars, as well as how closely they often mesh with the characters they play, with some notable exceptions. Eric Braeden, who portrays Victor Newman, has a marvelous sense of humor. For those who don’t watch the show, Victor does not. He does not have a playful characteristic at all.
Cooper describes how some pivotal moments in her own life matched many in Katherine’s, like the noteworthy facelift she had done in real life and also on the show. And just like Katherine, Jeanne herself struggled with alcohol dependency.
I could not put this book down, finishing it in less than a day. A definite five star read for me.