By Jeanne Cooper
March 22, 2013 at 04:30 PM EDT
Monty Brinton/CBS

UPDATE: Jeanne Cooper, the longtime star of CBS’ The Young and the Restless, died on May 8, 2013, at the age of 84. In March 2013, EW talked with the actress about the series’ 40th anniversary and asked her to select some of her favorite episodes, linked below.

ORIGINAL POST: “(My agent) said ‘I know you. You won’t like doing it. Even with the stage you don’t like doing it for six months. You will get very bored playing the same person.’ I said you’re right, so I just kept hiding on island after island in Hawaii. Finally (Producer) John Conboy said, we have to have her. I caught a red-eye out for the table read. William Gray Espy, the young lead who played Snapper, warned everybody that I was a tough lady who doesn’t put up with a lot of nonsense. I was going to give it my all for three years but all of a sudden, when you are creating another person who grows with you, Katherine grew with me. I grew with her. It was fascinating. Then, of course, I got a divorce and couldn’t afford to be too terribly hard ass about what I was and wasn’t going to do. You have to admit, to have a paycheck coming in weekly for 40 years is pretty great. I did not join this show when I was 21. I was 45. Everybody was shocked I would do this and stay with it. [Co-creator] Bill Bell gave me carte blanche to do what I wanted.

“I was introduced as a dead drunk and went to a beauty salon dragging my fur coat on the floor like Tallulah Bankhead. I dropped my fur coat and said to Jill, ‘would you please pick that up for me.?’ It was all ad lib, but they liked it. My character was drunk for two or three years. It became a good storyline. Everywhere I go, people say, ‘Mrs. Chancellor! Thank you!’ People come up to shake my hand and all of a sudden there is a sobriety chip in my hand. I called AA about this and they said `Jeanne, if your character’s story made them sober and keeps them sober, then yes, keep the chip. Don’t offer it back. That’s their way of saying thank you.’ I did the same thing with cosmetic surgery. People thanked because it gave them the courage.

“You can have a life with this show. Lots of actresses say they want to do movie but that’s for only three months. It all depends on where you want to hang your lights. If you want to be a movie star, then this is entirely different. I never wanted to be a movie star. I always wanted to be an actress, one of the best. And I am.” (As told to Lynette Rice)

This is from the day in 1984 when Cooper’s bandages were taken off in her doctor’s Beverly Hills office. Her own surgeon was off-camera (though those are his hands) marveling at how there was no blood from her actual facial lift.

Cooper loved the 1990 scenes involving Wild Marge, played by one of the best actors she knows.

Another epic fight from 1998 involving Katherine’s longtime nemesis Jill (Jess Walton).

One of her more emotional moments, this time at John Abbott’s deathbed in 2006.

There were many more cat fights with Jill. Here’s a particularly tasty one from 2009.

For more 40th anniversary surprises from Y&R, check back with Inside TV on March 26!