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Jess Walton Article
 
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10:10 AM 7/2/1998

Soap Scope Extra

By LYNDA HIRSCH
Copyright 1998 Creators Syndicate

Fourteen years ago, Jess Walton left the world of episodic prime-time television and joined the ranks of daytime, taking over the role of Jill on "Young and Restless."

"I have to admit," says the two-time Emmy Award-winning actress, "my opinion of daytime then was not very good. I had watched it in the early years. It seemed the lighting and lens work almost looked amateurish. Well, they have come a long way."

Walton says Y&R creator and former head writer Bill Bell has a lot to do with daytime's glossy look.

When Bell announced his retirement as Y&R day-to-day head writer, Walton admits: "I was sad. I think Bill is such a wonderful writer. The good news is that Bill is going to be looking over all the scripts. That takes away some sadness."

Also taking away sadness is Walton's front-burner story line. "Jeanne (Jeanne Cooper, who plays her arch enemy, Kay) and I just laugh all the time. The fight scene we did last week was a hoot. We have this patter going, and it is just amazing."

It is such great patter that when they do appearances together, they one-up each other with put-downs. "She is so great at it," praises Walton, "that sometimes she leaves me speechless and my only retort is 'Shut up.'"

While she is excited about going after Kay, the character she would love to tangle with is Victor. "Eric (Eric Braeden, who plays Victor) is such a powerful actor it would be wonderful to have Jill go after him and win."

Winning is something Walton knows about, especially when it comes to Daytime Emmys. "I have four nominations and two wins. My first nomination was for Supporting Actress. I lost. Honestly, I was glad. I kept thinking about the speech. I was terrified of forgetting all the people I wanted to thank. The next time I was nominated for Supporting, I won. I was so thrilled, I forgot all about my concern over the speech. I must have done OK, because no one felt slighted by my speech."

As for her win as Best Actress in Daytime, Walton says the award was great, but the press was a bit tough. "I kept being asked about Susan Lucci losing. I think Susan is a wonderful actress. I won that night, and I found it difficult dealing with questions about her losing. I finally told one on-camera reporter to ask me anything except about Susan's loss. She retorted, 'But that's the story.' I thought winning was the story."

An important part of her personal story is her longtime marriage to John Walsh, a grief counselor. "We are so afraid to grieve in this country," she says. "John has helped so many people deal with death."

Walton has two children -- a daughter, "who is a wonderful singer," and a son, who is looking toward a pro-baseball career.

Suddenly, Walton gives a shriek of delight. "It's the fight scene," referring to her go-round with Kay. "I have to see if it looks as good as we thought it would." With that, Walton says a pleasant goodbye and is "off to the fights."

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