Jess Walton

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Jess Walton
Born (1946-02-18) February 18, 1946 (age 70)
Grand Rapids, Michigan, U.S.
Occupation Actress
Years active 1969 - present
Spouse(s) Bruce Davison (1973, annulled)
John James (1980-present; 2 children)
Children Cole James (b. 1981)

Jess Walton (born February 18, 1946) is an American actress, best known for her role as Jill Abbott on the CBS soap opera, The Young and the Restless.

Early life[edit]

Mary Jess Walton was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, but raised in Toronto, Canada.[1] She attended the prestigious Loretto Abbey Catholic Secondary School in Toronto. Walton left home at the age of 17 and joined a Toronto theater company.[2] In 1969, she moved to Hollywood and in next year, signed with Universal Studios.[2]


In 1970s, Walton guest-starred in a number of television shows, such as Medical Center, Kojak, Marcus Welby, M.D., Ironside,The Rockford Files, Gunsmoke, Cannon, and Barnaby Jones. She co-starred in film The Strawberry Statement (1970), and portrayed the female lead roles of The Peace Killers (1971) and Monkeys in the Attic (1974). She also appeared in The Hunted Lady (1977) starring Donna Mills. During that time her social life also heated up and she was briefly wed to actor Bruce Davison from 1972-3, though their marriage was annulled within the year.[3] However, her life began to spiral out of control when she turned to alcohol and drugs. In 1980, she battled her addiction and completed rehab.[1]

In 1984, Walton returned to acting with the role of Kelly Harper on the CBS daytime soap opera, Capitol. The show was cancelled in 1987.[1] Later in that year, Walton joined the cast of another CBS soap opera, The Young and the Restless, in the role as Jill Foster Abbott. The role was originally portrayed by Brenda Dickson, who departed in 1980, and the role was first recast with Deborah Adair. In 1983, Dickson returned to the role, and though she stated that she would never leave, she was replaced by Walton in 1987. Walton won a Daytime Emmy Award in 1997 for Lead Actress in a Drama Series for her portrayal of Jill,[4] and was nominated in 1996 and 2000.[5][6] She also won the Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress in 1991,[7] after a nomination in 1990.[8]

Personal life[edit]

Walton is married to John James, an author and founder of The Grief Recovery Institute.[1] In an interview, Walton stated that "[B]efore [John James], I had always gone for bohemian, rock and roll types. John didn't fit the image; he was straighter." The couple have a son, Cole (b. 1981) and daughter, Allison and reside in Oregon.

Walton briefly dated one of the managers for Joni Mitchell and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, and for a time, she associated with them and other musicians, including Laura Nyro and Neil Young. In an interview, Walton recalled a memorable occasion where Nyro taught Walton and Mitchell how to belly dance. Walton says that one of the houses featured on Joni Mitchell's Ladies of the Canyon cover belonged to her.[9]

Walton was good friends with her Y&R co-star Jeanne Cooper, who portrayed her character Jill's arch-rival Katherine Chancellor from 1974 up until her death in May of 2013.[10]


Year Title Role Notes
1969 The Guns of Will Sonnett Abbey Garcia Episode: "Robber's Roost"
1970 The Strawberry Statement Student
1970 The Young Lawyers Clara Smith Episode: "MacGillicuddy Always Was a Pain in the Neck"
1970 Montserrat Television film
1971 The F.B.I. Mary Douglas Episode: "The Last Job"
1971 The Peace Killers Kristen
1971 Medical Center Nancy Episode: "Martyr"
1972 Young Dr. Kildare Libby Cabot Episode: "Death of Innocents"
1972 The Sixth Sense Lilly Warren Episode: "Coffin, Coffin in the Sky"
1972 The Victim Susan Chappel Television film
1972 Marcus Welby, M.D. Naomi Sobel Episode: "Unto the Next Generation"
1972-1973 The Bold Ones: The New Doctors Sharon McGraw Episodes: "Short Flight to a Distant Star" and "The Night Crawler"
1973 Owen Marshall, Counselor at Law Sheila Arnold Episode: "Seed of Doubt"
1973 You'll Never See Me Again Vicki Bliss Television film
1973 Gunsmoke Patricia Episode: "Patricia"
1973 Ironside Debbie Episode: "The Ghost of the Dancing Doll"
1973 Cannon Melanie Episode: "Arena of Fear"
1974 Griff Penny Coyle Episode: "All the Lonely People"
1974 Kojak Cheryl Pope Episode: "Die Before They Wake"
1974 Toma Episode: "Indictment"
1974 Rex Harrison Presents Stories of Love Angelique Television film
1974 Sierra Gail Episode: "Cruncher"
1974 Monkeys in the Attic Elaine
1974 Marcus Welby, M.D. Dr. Janet Oliver Episode: "The Fatal Challenge"
1974 Ironside Jennifer Episode: "The Lost Cotillion"
1975 The Six Million Dollar Man E.J. Haskell Episode: "Taneha"
1975 Cannon Janet Coin Episode: "Missing at FL307"
1975 Movin' On Olivia Episode: "Ammo"
1975 The Rockford Files Laura Smith Episode: "The Four Pound Brick"
1975 Gunsmoke Kattalin Larralde Episode: "Manolo"
1975 S.W.A.T. Carole Ritchie Episode: "Hit Men"
1975 Cannon Janice Elder Episode: "The Victim"
1975 Starsky and Hutch Theresa Defusto Episode: "Shootout"
1976 Jigsaw John Episode: "Thicker Than Blood"
1976 Baretta Muriel Episode: "Soldier in the Jungle"
1976 The Streets of San Francisco Lois Flynn Episode: "In Case of Madness"
1977 Switch Angela Mendarez Episode: "Three for the Money"
1977 Barnaby Jones Doris Carson Episode: "The Killer on Campus"
1977 The Hunted Lady Kate Television film
1979 The Return of Mod Squad Kate Television film
1979 Mrs. Columbo Judy Arno Episode: "A Chilling Surprise"
1980 Insight Joanna Episode: "Thea"
1984-1987 Capitol Kelly Harper Series regular
Nominated — Soap Opera Digest Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Daytime Drama (1986, 88)
1987-present The Young and the Restless Jill Abbott Series regular
Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series (1997)
Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series (1991)
Soap Opera Digest Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Daytime Drama (1994)
Nominated — Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series (1996, 2000)
Nominated — Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series (1990)
Nominated — Online Film & Television Association Award for Best Actress in a Daytime Serial (1997, 2003)
Nominated — Online Film & Television Association Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Daytime Serial (1998, 2009)
Nominated — Soap Opera Digest Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Daytime Drama (1996, 2000)
Nominated — Soap Opera Digest Award for Outstanding Villainess in a Drama Series – Daytime (1989)
1999 Wasted in Babylon Hellen Cook
2005 Paper Bags Margaret Rose Short film
2006 The Return of the Muskrats Soap Actress Short film


  1. ^ a b c d "Jess Walton 411 - Soap Opera Digest". Retrieved 12 October 2014. 
  2. ^ a b "Jess Walton Biography". Retrieved 12 October 2014. 
  3. ^ "A Role as a Gay Companion Brings Bruce Davison An Oscar Buzz". Retrieved October 12, 2014. 
  4. ^ "Daytime Emmy Winners & Nominees: 1997". Retrieved January 13, 2009. 
  5. ^ "Daytime Emmy Winners & Nominees: 1996". Retrieved January 13, 2009. 
  6. ^ "Daytime Emmy Winners & Nominees: 2000". Retrieved January 13, 2009. 
  7. ^ "Daytime Emmy Winners & Nominees: 1991". Retrieved January 13, 2009. 
  8. ^ "Daytime Emmy Winners & Nominees: 1990". Retrieved January 13, 2009. 
  9. ^ "Raising Cane". Soap Opera Weekly. 2007-02-27. p. 20. 
  10. ^ "Y&R's Jess Walton Interview: The Passing of Jeanne Cooper, Their Final Scenes & The Loss of a Friend!". Michael Fairman Soaps. May 14, 2013. Retrieved November 2, 2015. 

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