The Life, Times and Death (?) of Y&R’s Phillip Chancellor III

WIth the red hot CBS soap The Young and the Restless making waves by bringing back the wildly popular Thom Bierdz, some newer or casual Y&R viewers are probably wondering what the significance is of having the actor who played the original adult Phillip Chancellor III back on the canvas. One DC regular Blackjack21 emailed us with a request for Phillip’s backstory. Since I was only a mere, randy thought in my teenage parents minds when they storyline began back in the 70’s, I had to break out the trusty Y&R Anniversary Scrapbook, as well as pay a visit to online soap opera encyclopedia Soap Central to make sure I hit all the high notes.

Essentially, Phillip was a living, breathing symbol of the enmity between Genoa City grande dame Katherine Chancellor (Jeanne Cooper) and Jill Foster (then-Brenda Dickson; now Jess Walton). Jill was a nubile young woman who came to work as Katherine’s manicurist/shampoo girl/girl friday. At first they had a sort of tragically beautiful mother/daughter relationship, where Jill tended to a perennially drunken Kay. The bottled water and diamonds hit the fan when Jill caught the eye of Katherine’s husband, industrialist Phillip Chancellor II (John Considine, Donnelly Rhodes). Kay, who was banging stable boys on the side herself, prompted her son Brock to romance Jill to prevent the younger woman from stealing her husband, but not even an arranged marriage to Brock—it was never consumated— could stop Jill and Phillip’s torrid lust for one another.

When Jill announced she was preggars, Phillip filed for divorce, sending Kay back off the wagon. In one of Y&R’s most memorable scenes, Katherine signed divorce papers, giving up her claim to the Chancellor mansion and freeing Phillip to be with Jill. Phillip flew to the Dominican Republic, where he obtained a quicky divorce, then returned to Genoa City, where Kay, desperate to convince him to stay with her, offered to drive him home from the airport. During the drive, Kay and Phillip got into an argument where he told her yet again that it was over between them. A distraught Kay ended up driving the car over the edge of a cliff. Apparently she never read He’s Just Not That Into You. Kay came out unscathed, but Phillip was critically injured.

At the hospital, Phillip married Jill on his deathbed. Katherine had the marriage annulled citing her inebriated state when she signed her divorce papers. This move disinherited Jill and her son Phillip. Kay offered to pay Jill a million smackers for the tyke, but Jill refused. Kay prevented Phillip from wearing the Chancellor moniker, instead he grew up going by the name Phillip Foster.

After marrying Jabot cosmetics tycoon John Abbott (Jerry Douglas)—and later screwing his son Jack (then-Terry Lester, now Peter Bergman) like a bunny rabbit in heat— Jill sent Phillip off to boarding school. He returned as a troubled teenager (Are there really any other kind on soaps?) and bonded with his stepmother Kay, much to Jill’s chagrin. The two women began battling for the affections of Phillip III much like they had over Phillip II. Kay and Jill even went to court to fight for custody of Phillip, with the lad telling the judge he wanted to live with Katherine. When he turned 18, ironically it was Kay who had to at this point convince Jill to agree to let Phillip wear the Chancellor name.

Phillip as a young man was pretty much the biggest catch in town. Every girl wanted him, from seductive, department store heiress Lauren Fenmore (Tracey Bregman), to Nina Webster (Tricia Cast) a girl from the wrong side of the tracks, but Phillip only had eyes for teen model Christine "Cricket" Blair (Lauralee Bell). Too bad Cricket had the hots for big-haired rocker Danny Romalotti (Michael Damien) (Rock On). The foursome were part of a teen/young adult quad for awhile, with Nina ultimately seducing a drunken Phillip and getting herself knocked up with his son, the soon-to-be-returning Phillip Chancellor VI (John Driscoll).
Nina managing to trap Phillip actually brought about a momentary cease fire between Kay and Jill, as both women vowed to rid the gold-digger from Phillip’s life. Nina proved to be just as good at playing the game as Jill or Kay, however, and ultimately won Phillip’s heart and his hand in marriage. Nina also became lifelong best friends with Cricket, even though she had stolen the girl’s man. Talk about letting bygones be bygones!

Sadly, Phillip and Nina’s happiness was short-lived. An alcoholic like his stepmother, Phillip couldn’t handle the pressures of being a husband and father. He was killed following a car accident after driving drunk. Or was he…

25 Responses

  1. Profile photo of Chrystie-Delancey

    Thanks for the recap, Jamey!!

    I am so excited to see how this will all play out. It feels like the 80s again because that was the last time I watched Thom Bierdz on Y&R, but I remember the interactions with Nina and Cricket, although I was too young when all the other things went down.

    I also think this is an excellent time for casual Y&R viewers or ex-Y&R viewers to come back because this promises to be a great storyline, especially since this story may yield to Cane having a bit of character (which has been severely lacking since he dumped Amber).

  2. Profile photo of blackjack21

    wow -just finished reading. this sounds awesome! i can’t wait to see how it plays out. that is all great storytelling – can someone lend a bell to gh?

  3. Profile photo of soapjunkie88

    Thanks for this, Jamey!

    I’m really excited too. And it really promises to be a great storyline. I like the Chancellors front and center. A place that they should of had for a long time.

  4. Profile photo of daisyclover1938

    I was heartbroken when Phillip died! I was really young at the time and had a HUGE crush on Thom Bierdz. I kept wishing for Phillip to turn up alive one day, lol.

    I HATED Nina back in the day for breaking up Phillip and Cricket. If I remember correctly, Phillip and Cricket were engaged when he slept with Nina…oooh I just wanted Jill to beat the crap out of Nina, lol!

    I’m wondering how newer viewers are going to react to this news – if they’ll even care. I’m THRILLED. And after hardly watching Y&R these past couple of years, I think they’re finally bringing me back to the show (not even Ashley’s return did that!!)

  5. Profile photo of Jamey Giddens
    Jamey Giddens

    Daisy Clover, Nina revealed she was pregnant at Cricket and Phillip’s engagement party! :p Great storyteller that Bill Bell! I think he would be proud of what Maria is doing with his legacy. Brad, not so much.

  6. Profile photo of McD720

    Well I was 5 when Philip died so I don’t have too many memories of Thom but I know how significant this return is. I love Nina Webster so I am really excited about this storyline involving her history. I am all excited about the possible 80s flashbacks we could get in the coming weeks/months with Nina/Philip/Cricket! Oh I love this show!

  7. Profile photo of sodsince16

    It is such a great example of how soaps used to be. The story of Phillip rolled into the “Nina sells the baby” story and then the “Jill hires a guy to romance Nina” story and then the “David stalks Nina” story – it went on and on – there seemed to have been plan for the character of Nina and a road for her to travel that did not seemed made up as it went along.

    I can only hope the same care is taken when they create the character of her kid.

  8. Profile photo of arielade

    Hi Daisy Clover, I am a new Y&R viewer. The very first episode I watched (other than when I was a toddler with my mom) was when Gloria took a pain pill and applied the tainted face cream to her face. Ha!

    That being said, I am THRILLED with this history being brought in! I can’t understand why others think that all we want to see is new, younger actors. To me, the more history the better! I love trying to pice it altogether on the internet too. I wish I had watched Y&R for a much longer time!!

  9. Profile photo of ATLn30318

    Characters presumed dead and/or thought to have died:
    Phillip III (Thom Bierdz): “He was killed following a car accident after driving drunk. Or was he…”
    All of us out here in our real worlds know that if by chance you are killed from having been in a car accident, you died. The body is identified, gets taken to a morgue, cause of death is determined, death certificate is issued, blah, blah, funeral is arranged, people attend (witness), body gets buried. Jamey – I ask or anyone watching this story line then, did they even have a funeral for Phillip III or just how did Phillip’s death play out? Did Phillip somehow fake his death? How? Perhaps he was thrown from the car and they couldn’t locate the body as it just disappeared. This can happen in soap opera land. Did Phillip have the smarts then – given his distraught state of mind, and the money/resources to pull off such an elaborate ruse as faking his own death? Just say he did have the smarts/money/resources to pull it off, then he could have very well left GC and gone to live in Australia. Him resurfacing years later then could be plausibly explained. Kay had a doppelganger – a history with her look-a-like Marge Catroke so there you go.

    Malcolm Winters: How about Malcolm when he returned to GC after a three year absence when he thought presumed dead not having survived in Kenya: “Isaac saw more of the bridge fall on Malcolm. They searched for weeks, the driver’s body was found, but not Malcolm’s.” And then: “Malcolm explained that a family took him in and nursed him back to health, then ended up having to take care of them.”

    Drucilla: Would love to see how the writers would spin Dru’s return to GC if they decided to go that route. A Ghostly return?

  10. Profile photo of soaphunks

    I think this whole thing is ridiculous. Watch this link from my site’s 100 Most Memorable Soap Moments countdown:

    …and then tell me that there wasn’t a body or that Phillip didn’t really die. And, no disrespect intended, but when was this character “wildly popular?” I’m not saying he was UNpopular, but wildly popular?

  11. Profile photo of Coffee_Junkie

    Thanks so much for posting the link. I hadn’t see that since it originally aired!

    I don’t care if he DIED. I’m glad he’s back, LOL!

    Remember, we don’t know if this is him or not. Everyone is just assuming.

    I don’t remember him being *wildly popular* either. Though at the time it was a shock they wrote him out when they did.

    ATLn30318, Phillip’s funeral was never shown. It showed the family returning to the Chancellor Estate after the funeral (Jill was in RED, LOL). I remember being disappointed they didn’t actually show the service. I also remember Nina thanking Jill and Kay for coming to an agreement about Phillip being buried in the back yard next to his father.

  12. Profile photo of ATLn30318

    I watched Phillip’s death scene from “100 Most Memorable Soap Moments” (thanks to poster #15, soaphunks) and he was shown to have died. There had to have been more scenes that followed: a funeral perhaps? Or did it just end there in the hospital and the funeral took place off screen?

    I thought this could work casting Thom Bierdz as Cane’s Uncle just this one time “blast from the past” appearance, but Thom Bierdz has been signed on for a year – correct? Who’s he playing? Cane’s Uncle or Phillip III?

  13. Profile photo of toytoy74

    Anybody remember when Kay and Jill worked together and locked Nina in the Chancellor attic to take her baby?….Good effing times! I can’t wait to see where this story is going. This is gonna be good.

  14. Profile photo of daisyclover1938

    arielade: thanks for posting what you think about this! I’m always interested to hear what newer viewers think when a show brings back “older” characters/actors :)

    As for the “wildly popular” thing — Well, I know he was “wildly popular” with me, lol!

  15. Profile photo of ATLn30318

    Hey Coffee_Junkie: Thanks for the update. As you can see, I wasn’t a Y & R watcher those years Thom Bierdz was on; however, there was one character I heard a lot about way back then and that was Snapper – David Hasselhoff. This character must have been wildly popular. I think I started watching Y & R mid 90s.

  16. Profile photo of Pepe1958

    To me, this is fantastic. The last time I was a regular Y&R viewer was the late 80s, when Nina was first introduced. I didn’t watch again until a few months ago when it was revealed that a character would be coming out (the minor character of Rafe, though rumors/spoilers still insist that a major character will also be coming out). So, to see all of this history playing out when I’ve returned to the show is just awesome!

  17. Profile photo of sodsince16

    Ahhh Snaper, that’s when soap hunks were named like soap hunks….

    I’ve always thought it was shame that there aren’t more boys named Snapper, Ridge or Thorne in this generation.

  18. Profile photo of DenverDean

    So how is this going to work? Phillip III (Bierdz) died when he was 18, so if that kept it in real time, he’s 40. When Cane arrived they established that he was 30 or 31 (using the real 1976 birthdate). Also, how would Phillip III known about Kay’s baby switch? Kay was having those dreams and then remembered the truth. This makes no sense. I forget did Jill and Cane have a DNA test (not that it matters after the Kay/Jill double test undone by the three test they did this year). This could end up being a total mess. BTW — Bierdz looks a bit like our bad boy Adam in that pic!

  19. Profile photo of fewfew50

    I think it could work as long as he is not portrayed as the dead PC3. I was not around when all of that went down but I had did some research and found that clip. It would be a hard s/l to follow if he is coming back as PC3.I will not be able to suspend disbelief

  20. Profile photo of Chrystie-Delancey

    Thanks for providing the clip, soaphunks. I never saw that before because I was still in school back then and my soap viewing (besides Santa Barbara) consisted of what I saw on school vacations.

    Anyway, I cannot speak for anyone else, but what makes a character popular (and I am not saying “wildly popular”), but definitely memorable, to me, is when they are somewhat young, played by a good actor, and said character is tragically struck down in their prime. Some other characters, besides Phillip III that come to mind are Cassie (Y&R); Jenny (AMC); Stone (GH); and I am sure there are a whole bunch of others out there.

    I think the same would be said if it were a real person because there is a feeling that their death was senseless and they had so much life ahead of them.

    What makes Phillip III very popular for me is (as others have said), Thom Bierdz was a good actor and was extremely good looking – this tends to maintain one’s popularity (I think).

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