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Peter Bergman Is Saluted On His 25th Anniversary With Y&R: The Speeches, Co-Stars Sentiments & Our Chat With Him!

Photo Credit: MF Soaps, Inc.

Often in the daytime genre because of its enduring art form we celebrate show anniversaries, or cast member milestones, all so richly deserved for a job well-done and for continuing to bring the drama year after year.

However, yesterday was one of the most heartfelt and special On-Air On-Soaps has ever attended in our decades of covering this genre.  That was because it was honoring Daytime Emmy winner, class act, talented and professional actor  extraordinaire, Peter Bergman.  For this time it was Bergman’s turn to be celebrated, as he made it to his silver anniversary playing Jack Abbott on the number one soap opera, The Young and the Restless!

The afternoon was spent on the soundstage at Y&R honoring this iconic daytime actor.  There were beautiful speeches abound from current and former cast members which included:  Eileen Davidson (Ashley), Jerry Douglas, (John) Joshua Morrow (Nick), Eric Braeden (Victor) and former Y&R star and current B&B cast member and Peter’s dear friend, Don Diamont (Bill).  Y&R’s executive producer Jill Farren Phelps kicked-off the proceedings with a speech, as well.  Peter’s wife Mariellen and his children (who surprised dad!) were also on hand.  Following the testimonials in which many, including us, reached for the hankies, a cake cutting and photos were all of a part of the festivities.  While on the set, we chatted with some of Peter’s co-stars to get their thoughts on the man of the hour, and then with Peter himself. 

First up:  here is what Eileen Davidson, Joshua Morrow, and Eric Braeden shared with and about Peter, and the adoring crowd at the studio, when they stepped up to the podium to make their speech.

Photo Credit: MF Soaps Inc.

EILEEN DAVIDSON:  (To Peter) I want to tell you how much I completely adore you.  You are really like a big brother to me.  And on my way here I am thinking to myself, “What am I going to say about Peter?”  I thought of his amazing talent as an actor. Then I was thinking about the fact that I have never seen you in a bad mood.  Honestly, how supportive you are, and how incredible you are, and always present, and always accessible, and always willing to talk about love, and life, and work, and all of the above.  I just don’t think I have known anybody like that.  I mean that from the bottom of my heart and that’s so exceptional. Your enthusiasm and passion after all these years is so exceptional, and that you are care so deeply for making the scenes better. You always want to make them shine, and you care so much for who you are working with.  I feel so blessed (I am going to cry) to have been working with you off and on for all these years.  I’m honored to be able to continue to work with you.  CBS and The Young and the Restless congratulations to you for having the intelligence to hire this man, and finally congratulations to you, your wife, and your kids, for kicking ass for 25 years!

Photo Credit: MF Soaps, Inc.

JOSHUA MORROW: The dude oozes class and poise, and symbolizes everything that is right to being an actor and more importantly, a man. His professionalism is off the charts.  The adjectives used to describe this guy are the “who’s who” of signs of respect: humble, prepared, professional, talented, strong, caring, and generous.  You are also one the smartest men I have ever known.  I have asked for your advice for several personal things in my own life, and your advice is always spot on with wisdom and intelligence. You are always quick to know about my own family, and I know you truly care.  Dudes come on the show now and I try to give them advice on how to do this job and to be successful at it, but I only have one rule and that is … to watch Peter.  It is no coincidence that in every round up or article when people ask us, “Who would we call when and if we ever got in trouble?”, it seems like everyone always said you, Peter, and it’s true.  If I ever got in trouble and my own family wasn’t around, I would call you.  I can tell what a great a dad you are by listening to you talk about your children. Your eyes glisten with pride and love.  I always think Connor and Claire are so lucky to have such a great dad.  They do say behind every great man was an even greater woman … Mariellen is certainly that.  You are a great man, and you are a true leader around here.  I can tell you how greatly honored I am to truly call you my friend.  I have had you as a role model now for 20 years, and to put it in the ultimate compliment that matter’s to me most (sports), it is that I would pick you to be on my team any day.  Thank you for your friendship, and congratulations on all your success in this industry, but most importantly in life, because you have truly won, brother!

Photo Credit: MF Soaps Inc

ERIC BRAEDEN:  You know Peter, you and I didn’t start of on the friendliest of terms, in fact, we had a very rough time until the great Bill Bell (Y&R creator) got us together, and then you and I met afterwards and I said, “We may not like each other and be friends, but together we can make this a successful show.” I have learned to respect you, and learned to like you. You are one of the few people around here who reads a newspaper!  I can discuss politics and sports with you. We can gossip about the other cast members (laughs) and I have always been enormously envious of your hairdo.  The only time I found a strand askew was when you threw the chair through the window in Victor’s office, and this gust of wind came in and suddenly there was this stand of hair, but you in your inimitable fashion put it back in place and it was perfect again! I have often wondered when you learn your dialog, and then I heard you have a boat in the Newport Harbor and you sail it in alone.  I have some friends there who said there is an actor who on the weekends sails in this harbor and he mouths all these things (laughs) and the last they heard was, “She was my daughter, not Nicholas’ daughter!” (Laughs) You shouted it at the top of your lungs.  (Laughs) Anyway, I think Bill Bell knew years ago, as he so often did, that he was good at writing about personal relationships.  I think our enmity has worked enormously well for this show.  I respect you for that, and I have developed an affection for you for that.

On-Air On-Soaps caught up with a few of Peter’s co-stars and asked them to share their thoughts on this talented man for all seasons including:  Gina Tognoni (Phyllis), Burgess Jenkins (Billy), Eric Braeden (Victor), Cady McClain ( Kelly), and Y&R EP Jill Farren Phelps!

Courtesy/CBS

JILL FARREN PHELPS: This was beautiful, and so well-deserved.  Peter is everything that ever single person that spoke said.  He is the most professional, gracious, and most extraordinarily talented and phenomenal man.  He means a lot to me.  If I can make his life as easy as he makes all of ours, than I would consider it a good day, but I am very fond of him.  Peter is a very good man, and you can see that by how many people were here, and what they think of him.

GINA TOGNONI: From the day we met each other we had been ships passing in the nights – and being on One Life to Live and Guiding Light – I would only see Peter at the Emmys.  We would have quick conversations like “Congratulations on your nomination.”  That is just the kind of guy he is, and he would also extend that congratulations to all the winners. I always admired Peter from afar thinking, ‘What a nice gentlemen!’  I know what a gentlemen is.  My husband is a gentlemen and I appreciate them. I was just saying to Burgess Jenkins a moment ago that they don’t make people like Peter Bergman anymore. He has a real old-school charm and quality about him.  In addition, Peter never stopped caring and giving me insight into Phyllis that only Peter would know.  He also was the first person to call me and welcome me on to the show, and I have kept that message on my phone.

Photo Credit: HutchinsPhoto.com

BURGESS JENKINS: I knew bits and pieces of what I had been told as it was approaching my time to start at Y&R, but I didn’t know the full-on version of Peter until I got to meet him. As I have said before, he was the first person to call me, before anyone called me at all!  I still have his voice mail.  It is a keepsake.  I played it for my mother, and she said that is a keeper!  But it was about so much more than that.  It was the sincerity of which he was inviting me to the show to let me know what a great thing it was going to be, and what a great relationship we were going to be developing together, and it has all come to fruition.

ERIC BRAEDEN:  Everything that was said by me, and Jill, and Eileen was true. I have never known an actor so on time, so prepared, and so professional, and so invested in the scenes.  As I remarked, he is the only one who in the morning doesn’t have a script. He knows the material from the night before. I heard he was seen jogging in his suit at 4 in the morning while learning his lines! (Laughs)! That’s when he has his script in hand.  He never brings it on the set, he just knows it, and it’s a joy to work with him.  Peter and I didn’t get along at first at all.  Bill Bell, which was part of his genius, instead of panicking got together with us, and we shook hands and had a few beers, and the rest is history.  This notion of having friends you work with is b*s.   You need to respect each other.  That is what is important.  I respect Peter enormously.  I think the respect is mutual. Obviously, the storylines between us have been a cornerstone of this show, and we both in that sense have truly invested in our parts.

CADY MCCLAIN: Peter is a wonderful man. I feel very lucky to have been able to work with him for this period of time.  Peter has been gracious, and truly considerate, and thoughtful.  I am thrilled that he has had such a wonderful support system here and at this moment of time and can celebrate his body of work.  That happens very rarely for people.  He must have been like a monk in a past life (laughs).  He has been richly rewarded, and I am glad.

Photo Credit: MF Soaps. Inc

Finally, we got a few moments to chat with Mr. Bergman and get his reaction to this overwhelming show of love, and gratitude, and for all that came together to celebrate his achievements.

What did you think of these magnificent and heartfelt speeches today?

PETER:  So powerful!  Wow! It was crazy flattering.

Does it feel like 25 years have past since you first came on to the show as Jack Abbott?

PETER:  It feels like four or five years … and like no time at all, seriously.

And think of the journey that led you here! When you think back, did you want to leave AMC as Cliff Warner which ultimately ended up being the best thing that could have happened to your career?

PETER: I did not want to get out of playing Cliff Warner and All My Children at all.  It ended before I was ready for it to.  So, I treat it like the same thing is going to happen here at Y&R. So I always say, “Enjoy, and be as committed to it as you can, while you can.”

Your wife, Mariellen has always been this magnificent touchstone for you and throughout your iconic career.  What can you say about Mariellen?

PETER:  This is a very hard business for wives.  We go to the Emmys and all of these actresses are dressed by a wardrobe department, and they put them in high heels, and fancy bras, and everything. And there is Mariellen standing at Nordstrom’s going through the racks trying to find something nice to wear to the Emmys.  That is her life.  People ask her to step out of the way so they can take a picture of me. They ask her to take a picture of them and me, all the time.  It’s not an easy gig.  She rises above it, always.

Photo Credit: MF Soaps Inc.

Burgess Jenkins (Billy) and Gina Tognoni (Phyllis) just told me you were the first person to call them and welcome them to the show.  I have heard that also from many others over the years.  Why are you the guy who is the first person to call?

PETER:  I have been here for awhile, and they are both replacements.  I get behind replacements!  They have a real ally in me.

Eileen Davidson (Ashley) has such an affinity for you, and she shed some very tears in her speech today too!

PETER:  What a cool thing!  I have with different companies and different producers been fighting for Eileen Davidson for 20 years to be here at Y&R.  I am so glad she is here with me.

Eric Braeden (Victor) commented in his speech on the once contentious relationship you had with each other.  But now, he talked about your mutual respect for one another.  Did his speech ring true and real to you?

PETER:  It was very real to me and delightful! I am delighted to earn anyone’s respect.

So, what did you think of the Peter’s co-stars speeches?  The thoughts and sentiments shared by his cast members … and what he shared in our chat?  What has been your favorite Peter Bergman performance as Jack Abbott over the past 25 years? Share your thoughts and congrats below!

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Jules
Jules

He is what all actors- daytime, primetime, anytime, should aspire to be like. In kindness, professionalism, talent, good showmanship, humility and so much more. Bergman is an example for us all. Congratulations to him on this milestone an wishing him many more.

terry Campbell
terry Campbell

Amen! Peter=Class!

Harry
Harry

I loved, loved, loved reading this piece. Did I say I loved reading it? Because I did. Everything his co stars say about Peter Bergman is exactly how I envisioned him to be.
Eileen Davidson says she never once saw him in a bad mood rings true. to me. I really enjoyed Eric’s comments too–he reflected about his professionalism and how that is what earned his respect (something of which I imagine it is very hard to attain). I also loved how Eric managed to slide in a sly jab to the the other cast when he remarks that Peter is intelligent and well read and is the only one the set caught reading a newspaper.
I have loved Peter Bergman ever since he asked James Mitchell( Palmer Courtlandt) to walk his bride down the isle at Peter’s wedding. It was said that Peter delivered a beautiful and poignant eulogy at James Mitchell’s wedding and he shed a few tears while doing so.
That is one of the things I have always loved about this actor which comes through with his characterization of Jack—he wears his heart on his sleeve but does so without sacrificing his masculinity. In fact, it’s his ability to show his emotions which makes him so strong.
Thank you for this excellent piece on one of the best actors on television.

Harry
Harry

In my exultation,, I mixed up wedding with funeral. I meant to say that Peter Bergman delivered a eulogy at James Mitchell’s funeral, not wedding.
I know it’s annoying to come in to correct mistakes but that one was too crucial to let go.
My apologies.

jaybird369
jaybird369

Mr. Bergman…as always, you are such a A+ CLASS ACT ALL THE WAY!!!!! CONGRATULATIONS on 25 A-M-A-Z-I-N-G years at Y&R!!!!! Here’s to many, many more!!!!!!

Peace.

Mary SF
Mary SF

I remember when he took over the role from Terry Lester and it took me a while to get use to the new Jack– but he eventually he won me over and now I can’t imagine anyone else in the role. A class act and a gentleman–reaching out to recasts, knowing from experience what it is like trying to take over a role from the original actor. Congrats– and thanks for sticking with the show for 25 years.

Timmm
Timmm

And thats a lesson we should all learn from recasts. I never thought Peter could fill Terry’s shoes but there is no one I would ever think who could play Jack better than Peter.

terry Campbell
terry Campbell

I found this article very nice as a former fan of Y&R and I love Peter Bergman! What a great class act! I didn’t find Eric Braden speech too sincere nor do I think Peter Bergman did either.
Always love your articles Michael! XO

terry Campbell
terry Campbell

So humble too! Makes Peter ever classier than most!

Lillian
Lillian

Where is Traci? Please get comments from Beth Maitland.

Jamesj75
Jamesj75

Thank you for sharing this wonderful event with us! Mr. Bergman is truly inspiring, and he is a terrific actor.

One other thing: Eric Braeden moved up a few notches in my book!

davlestev1
davlestev1

What is with Eric Braeden and the this is just a joke barbs??? Many a TRUTH told in jest. Jack Abbott is an enduring character who I LOVED LOVED in the hands of Terry Lester and was floored to hear when Peter Bergman took over the role…UNTIL HE TOOK IT OVER…HE IS JACK…in all sense of the character and I just wish Mr. Braeden would leave his God Bless Eric Braeden (OOOPS..I mean Bill Bell) attitude AT HOME…in the mirror he looks in for hours on end as he pats himself on the back.

Mark
Mark

Eric braeden is hella funny

Harry
Harry

I agree, Mark! He amuses me and scares me at the same time.
Just once I would love it if he screamed at me. Can you imagine him as a roommate? “I told you that the left side of the refrigerator was mine! And you’ve got all your damned Greek yogurt interacting with my German sausage! I am going to crush you!”
I know he angers a lot of people but I would be very sad if Eric ever stopped acting like Eric and if he ever left Y&R.

jaybird369
jaybird369

Harry…I don’t care for Eric Braeden all that much but your comment TOTALLY made me LOL!!!!! Thanks.

su0000
su0000

I don’t read the long speeches and I don’t read long posts, I scan them..lol
I go for the last paragraph to see what the point is .. and I see the Y&R cast love Peter and think very highly of him..
But..
Eric Braeden was the most interesting..
It is easy to say wonderful thing about Peter Bergman because he truly is a treasure!!

CONGRATS on 25 awesome years, Peter !!!

Harry
Harry

If you didn’t read the entire column above, then you have missed out.
I read every word and didn’t regret the time I spent doing so. It was very entertaining, well written and apparently the speeches were well delivered.
I just noticed the pictures above, however, and it struck me that the setting with Peter’s pictures accompanying the speakers resembles one of Y&R’s funeral services.
I wonder if that unnerved Peter.

Carol
Carol

I love Peter. Everyone is Great. I love
the show. Thank you for sharing this
with us.

Ruby Hayes
Ruby Hayes

Peter is wonderful, would love to meet him in person…simply irreplaceable…

Harry
Harry

Ruby, I met him a long time ago at a charity event which was held at my college. This was way back in the mid to late 80’s. Yep, I’m old.
He was there playing soft ball–it was the AMC players vs the OLTL players.
Peter Bergman was there along with James Mitchell (Palmer Courtlandt, Cliff Warner’s tyrannical father-in-law). Peter Bergman was lovely and gracious with all his fans as was his close friend and mentor, James Mitchell.

k/kay
k/kay

Congrats Peter! I still would love for them to bring Taylor Miller/Nina from AMC for a cameo they were truly gold together. He has never had a leading lady on Y&R that he shared the same chemistry with. I still wish just once he would get the better of Victor.

Rapids
Rapids

I had the pleasure of meeting him fifteen years ago at a poorly publicized store opening. There were few people in attendance and I was embarrassed for him and the store. He was unbelievably gracious and humble, I talked to him for a while then stood back to watch him. No diva behavior whatsoever. He stayed the appointed length of time chatting with store employees. I doubt many knew what a big star he is. Congratulations to him.

Bart
Bart

I enjoyed Peter Bergman as Cliff Warner on “All My Children” and for the past 25 years he has been nothing but entertaining as Jack Abbott!!

Congrats to you, Mr. Bergman, on your silver anniversary!!

Timmm
Timmm

I made Peter once at a autograph signing. He is such a wonderful man. Very nice, patient, and friendly. I talked to him briefly and it was like the two of us were sitting at a bar and chatting. First class all the way. I wish him another 25 years as Jack Abbott.

Harry
Harry

Thanks for telling us that, Timm. That was my impression of the man too.

jonboy
jonboy

Ah, but Terry Lester was so phenomenal as the original Jack.

k/kay
k/kay

Yes he was and a wonderful man but life goes on and Peter did make the part his own. However the last few years they have softened him too much but hey sometimes people do change as they get older! As for the off stage shenanigans EB needs to please grow up and move on we aren’t in a boxing ring anymore.

Nikki
Nikki

I agree with everything you said. E.B. needs to grow up and stop trying to play bully Victor to everyone around him. The fact that he ignores E.B. shows his maturity level.

Mark
Mark

OMG loving Justin Hartley as Adam!!!

Nikki
Nikki

I love Peter Bergman. What a great actor. He shows so much emotion in his scenes. I never thought anyone could take Terry Lester’s place but Peter over the years Peter has made it his own with compassion, love and honor. I just can’t see a week without our Jack Abbott. I especially love the holidays when Jack,Ashley, and Tracey remember John their Dad.

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