''The Young and the Restless'' anniversary -- David Hasselhoff, Tom Selleck, Wings Hauser, and Steven Ford share highlights from daytime's top-rated soap

It has been almost two decades since David Hasselhoff, then 22, first stepped onto CBS’ The Young and the Restless soundstage, but he remembers his jitters well. ”I was so green on the audition,” he says, ”they told me the director was in the booth, and I said, ‘What’s a booth?”’

Just like the many Y&R freshmen before and after him, Hasselhoff would soon learn how to find the booth, as well as how to rip off his shirt and how to fall into bed without mussing his leading lady’s hair — invaluable training that was not to be had at Hollywood’s finer acting schools. As daytime’s sexiest and top-rated (since 1989) soap celebrates its 20th anniversary, Hasselhoff and three other notable graduates — Tom Selleck, Wings Hauser, and Steven Ford — share their reminiscences of their salad days in the suds:

Class of: 1975-82 Character: Dr. William ”Snapper” Foster Jr., general practitioner Majored In: Wearing towels. ”It was easier when I was younger, let me tell you.” Minored In: Being ridiculously earnest. ”I did so many stories about how I wouldn’t buy my wife furniture: ‘I can’t buy you a couch! I must help the children in the ghetto!”’ Postgrad Work: Knight Rider; executive producer and star of Baywatch; four pop-rock albums, which are chart toppers in Europe Lifelong Lesson: ”I became prolific at reading cue cards.” Yearbook Comments: ”What a gig; it was heaven. They paid me to kiss women. And sometimes those kisses were real. Seriously, it gave me a tremendous amount of discipline. I’ve modeled Baywatch on a soap, which I think is one of the major reasons it’s popular worldwide.”

Class of: 1977-81 Character: Lawyer Greg Foster, brother of Snapper. ”The guy was a Ken doll. Nothing between the legs.” Majored In: Wearing a suit and tie. ”I was shirtless once. And they obviously didn’t like what they saw.” Minored In: Trying to make sense of the plots. ”One day I’m a bearded, drug-crazed guy and the next I’m back in the f—ing suit and tie, perfectly groomed, with no explanation. I believe most soap writers have to be on LSD.” Postgrad Work: 48 movies, including 1989’s Bedroom Eyes II, with his current fiancée, Linda Blair; Roseanne Lifelong Lesson: ”Never do a soap again!” Yearbook Comments: ”I hate when soap actors say how tough they have it. Tough is being shot at by Communists in the Philippines (during the making of The Siege of Firebase Gloria). Or being arrested in Africa for doing an anti-apartheid movie (Reason to Die). A soap is a hair show.”

Class of: 1974-75 Character: Semiregular Jed Andrews. ”If he had a life, I knew nothing about it.” Majored In: Flirting. ”I got to kiss Jamie Lyn Bauer (who played novelist Lauralee Brooks) all the time. That was fun.” Minored In: Shower scenes, including one that has been called the most erotic soap scene ever. ”I don’t even remember it. Look, I’ve done 163 Magnum, P.I.‘s, 11 movies, and 3 TV movies. All the plots have begun to blur.” Postgrad Work: Three Men and a Baby; Mr. Baseball; a new three-picture deal with Disney’s Hollywood Pictures Lifelong Lesson: How to find the subtext in a scene. ”Mine was usually about sex.” Yearbook Comments: ”I never looked down on soaps. Everyone I knew wanted to be in prime time, and people on prime time want to be in films. That’s the business.”

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