As The Young and the Restless (weekdays on CBS) celebrates its 50th year, its triple-Emmy-winning star Christian LeBlanc (64), who plays attorney Michael Baldwin, tells AARP that the show was ahead of its time, and a great place to grow older. LeBlanc — who had costarred on another classic soap, As the World Turns, opposite rising stars Meg Ryan (61), Marisa Tomei (58) and Julianne Moore (62) — was part of the crew that made Y&R (as fans call it) the number 1 daytime drama for 35 years in a row. The show was also a career launchpad for stars like Tom Selleck (78) and Eva Longoria.
“Y&R creator Bill Bell addressed all kinds of social-issue topics, from breast cancer and alcoholism to dying with dignity and divorce,” says Le Blanc. His character, Michael Baldwin, engaged in sexual harassment long before the #MeToo movement made it a timely topic. Happily, his character found redemption through the love of Lauren Fenmore (Tracey Bregman, 59).
Y&R remains on top today because it connects with viewers’ hearts. “A woman walked up to me at a fan event and hugged me and started weeping,” says LeBlanc. “At first neither of us said anything. The line waited. There’s something that takes away the barrier when you’re in someone’s home every day.”
Here are the most memorable moments in the half-century of The Young and the Restless.
10. When Y&R took out the trash (1991)
After trying to kill Nina (Tricia Cast, 56) to inherit her millions, David Kimble (Michael Corbett, 66) hid in a trash compactor to elude authorities — and was crushed to death.
9. A real rocker morphed into a soap actor (1980)
Rock star Michael Damian (60) joined Y&R as singer Danny Romalotti, whose concerts often conveyed the social-issue messages showrunner Bill Bell wanted to convey.
8. The unlucky adulteress (1996)
Dr. Olivia Hastings (Tonya Lee Williams, 64) was stunned to discover her patient Keesha Monroe (Jennifer Gatti, 54), diagnosed with HIV, was her husband’s mistress, a message episode about the perils of cheating.
7. Nick and Sharon’s on-again-off-again romance (1994 to ... forever, we hope!)
Star-crossed lovers Nick Newman (Joshua Morrow) and Sharon Newman Rosales (Sharon Case, 52) fell in love in 1994, broke up and still remain good pals. But fans long to see them back together.