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'The Young and the Restless' turns 40

From left, Lamon Archey, Robert Adamson, Max Ehrich,

From left, Lamon Archey, Robert Adamson, Max Ehrich, Redaric Williams and Hunter King, cast members in "The Young and the Restless," during the Hot New Faces of "The Young and the Restless" press junket at CBS Television City in Los Angeles. (Feb. 27, 2013) Credit: AP

The show may not be so young anymore -- as its 40th anniversary indicates -- but it's still restless, based on the plot twists it keeps handing its longtime characters.

That's what has kept so many stars of "The Young and the Restless" (12:30 p.m. on CBS/2) onboard, and they'll be present as the CBS daytime drama hits the four-decade mark Tuesday. Though the milestone will be noted in certain ways, it'll also be just another day in fictional Genoa City, according to three-time Daytime Emmy winner Peter Bergman, who has played Jack Abbott on the soap since 1989.

"It's a giant chunk of my life," he says. "Because I can remember clearly my first day -- it seems it was yesterday. My daughter was four weeks old when I started the show, and she graduated from college last year. When you put it in terms of someone else's life, that's a really long time."

Still, Bergman remembers that he didn't originate his role on the serial created by William J. Bell and his wife, Lee Phillip Bell. Terry Lester, who died in 2003, was the first Jack, the womanizer whose life has been marked by everything from sexual harassment suits to political bids.

"Of course, a lot of people loved Terry [who left of his own accord] and missed him terribly, but what Bill did for me storywise was kind of neat. Jack came back determined to get Jabot [the Abbott family's cosmetics firm] back, and his plan was to get Nikki [Melody Thomas Scott's character, of the rival Newman family] to fall in love with him. And he went about it in a very clever, planned way."

Nikki and Jack ultimately wed, then divorced, just one of Jack's many stops on the road of romancing and scheming -- one of his latest being with Phyllis Summers (Michelle Stafford). Eric Braeden, Jeanne Cooper, Doug Davidson, Tracey E. Bregman, Sharon Case and Kristoff St. John are among other actors who have had lengthy runs on "Y&R," which has won 113 Daytime Emmy Awards -- seven for outstanding daytime drama. And while the number of daytime soaps has dwindled, Bergman is pleased and grateful to remain with one of the survivors.

"So many things have hit at us," he acknowledges, "and have threatened the survival of the genre and the show, and we still generate an audience of 4 million-plus people a day. I'm hopeful this thing will go on for a while."

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