By Lilana Novakovich
March 10, 2000
If Jess Walton has a string of appendages to her YOUNG AND RESTLESS character's name -- Jill Foster Reynolds Chancellor Brooks Abbott Sterling Abbott -- she comes by them honestly. She is the fourth actress to play the role.
Walton took over the part in 1987 from Brenda Dickson, popular with fans, but a definite diva. She insists she wasn't apprehensive.
"It was all excitement," she explains. "I couldn't wait to get my hands on that character. In the first months, they tried to shape me in the image of Brenda's Jill to make the transition smooth for the viewers. Gradually, Jill evolved into my character."
Indeed, Walton won an outstanding lead actress Emmy Award in 1997 and best supporting actress Emmy in 1991 for her take on the character.
But one thing she didn't change: Her Jill sustained the long- running feud with Kay Chancellor, her nemesis, played by Jeanne Cooper, with whom in reality, Walton gets along with like a house on fire.
On screen, the fiery issue was the Chancellor mansion, over which they've been fighting.
A judge sentenced Jill and Kay to share the mansion.
"What's amazing is that the storyline about the house is 25 years old," she marvels. "We are the longest-running feud in daytime."
But Kay and Jill did unite to get Nina (Tricia Cast) out of the picture. Albeit, it was 10 years ago.
"That was really fun because it was a legitimate way to get Jill and Katherine together, even though they hated each other. One of our favourite scenes -- Jeanne and I talk about it often -- was when we were going to bribe Nina to go away, and we were trying to find a place to send her.
"We had maps spread out all over Katherine's living room and finally, at the end of the scene, we said, 'Guam!' "
A native of Grand Rapids, Mich., Walton grew up in Toronto and went to convent school for part of her education.