Five years ago, “The Young and the Restless” celebrated Peter Bergman’s quarter-century on the daytime serial with a cake and speeches. The actor says he didn’t expect any fuss over his 30th year playing Jack Abbott, but producers devised a plot twist worthy of a soap opera.
To publicly honor the anniversary, Monday’s episode (12:30 p.m. EST, CBS) is all about Jack and those close to him. As he reads his sister Traci’s (Beth Maitland) family memoir, his past is revisited with clips from previous seasons and appearances by other Abbotts, including Eileen Davidson as Ashley.
“As flattered as I was, I didn’t know how interesting this was going to be, or how much fun,” Bergman said of the retrospective. “Well, I was so moved by the whole thing. It was retracing three decades of my life and, obviously, three decades of Jack’s life.”
He said he hopes it’s enjoyable for viewers as well, including seeing the succession of hairstyles and fashions over the decades.
Bergman stepped in as Jack on Nov. 27, 1989, replacing Terry Lester as the rival to Victor Newman (Eric Braeden). Bergman, who starred for a decade on “All My Children,” has collected a total of 21 Emmy Award nominations for best lead actor and won three trophies for “The Young and the Restless.”
His character’s growth has kept the work interesting, he said.
“My earliest memories of Jack are of this kind of rakish cad of a fellow, pretty weak sense of moral gravity and out for himself,” he said. “And one by one, these relationships Jack has have forced a kind of empathy on the character. He starts to see the world through other people’s eyes,” with credit to the women he’s known.
Bergman is aware that actors rarely have job security, including in the daytime serial realm where the number of shows has been diminished by changed viewing habits.
“A lot of our friends are actors with remarkable resumes, who have struggled and been unemployed for long periods of time,” he said. “So to look at this as 30 years of solid work, 30 years where I didn’t have to look for work as an actor, is a pretty extraordinary thing. And if I didn’t know that on my own, I have lots of friends to remind me.”