Jerry Douglas, who portrayed the patriarch John Abbott on the CBS daytime drama The Young and the Restless for more than 30 years, died Tuesday in Los Angeles after a brief illness, the network announced. He was 88.
Douglas joined the cast of The Young and the Restless in March 1982 as Abbott, the wealthy chairman of Jabot Cosmetics.
When viewers first met him, he was a single father helping children Jack, Ashley and Traci navigate adulthood. In later years, Abbott wed Jill Foster, and they had a son, Billy. He also had several romantic reunions with his estranged ex-wife, Dina Mergeron.
Abbott was a mainstay in Genoa City until his death in 2006. He then made appearances as a ghost who continued to counsel his children, with his last appearance on the show coming in 2016.
“Jerry came to Y&R in 1982 with an impressive résumé of credits,” executive producer Anthony Morina said in a statement. “Our show was lucky to have an actor of his caliber join the Y&R cast and introduce the audience to the iconic Abbott family. His contribution to the legacy of Y&R as Abbott family patriarch John Abbott is still felt to this day. He will be sorely missed.”
Douglas was born Jerry Rubenstein on Nov. 12, 1932, in Chelsea, Massachusetts. He won a football scholarship to play quarterback at Brandeis University, where he graduated with a B.S. degree in economics.
After college, Douglas studied with Uta Hagen in New York and Jeff Corey in Los Angeles, then made his movie debut as a gangster in the thriller Blast of Silence (1961).
Douglas kept busy with guest-starring turns on such shows as The Untouchables, The Donna Reed Show, The Outer Limits, Combat!, Gunsmoke, Bonanza, Mannix, The F.B.I., The Streets of San Francisco, S.W.A.T. and The Rockford Files. More recently, he showed up on episodes of Cold Case, Melrose Place and Arrested Development.
He also appeared in such films as Avalanche (1978), Mommie Dearest (1981), The Godson (1998) and Oliver Stone’s JFK (1991).
Douglas was a screenwriter and playwright who developed projects with Josh O’Connell through their production company, O’Connell/Douglas Productions. He also was a singer who recorded the 2007 album The Best Is Yet to Come.
Survivors include his wife of 37 years, Kym Douglas, a lifestyle/beauty expert who co-hosted the Hallmark Channel show Home & Family and has served as a frequent guest on The Ellen DeGeneres Show; children Jod, Hunter and Avra; two grandchildren; and nieces including Solo Rubenstein, an international marketing executive at Universal Pictures.