"Coffee, tea or me?"
It's not unusual to hear Kate Linder ask that question on daytime's number-one soap opera, "The Young and the Restless," as earnest, clumsy spinster maid Esther Valentine -- or in real life. Along with co-starring on "Y&R" for the past 31 years (!), Linder is also a part-time flight attendant. So it made sense that the fan favourite organized a series of sophisticated high teas across Canada to connect with "Y&R"'s legions of fans and support a worthy cause, The March of Dimes.
Sadly, in addition to losing her longtime co-star and friend Jeanne Cooper earlier this year, days after HuffPost Canada TV met with the 66-year-old soap star, her father died at age 92. Linder shares her thoughts with with us exclusively, saying, "I'd spent the last week-and-a-half with him in the hospital but he wanted me to still go to the March of Dimes event because he wanted me to help other people. The morning of the Toronto event, he passed away in Los Angeles. I am obviously devastated, but decided to dedicate the tea to him because he's the person who taught me about philanthropy and giving back, and I thought it was a fitting way to honour him. He will always be in my heart."
Meeting up in Toronto for coffee (she wasn't serving this time), HuffPost TV Canada and Linder dished the dish on the future of daytime soaps, if she tried to get Cooper fired as Cooper claimed in her memoir, "Not Young, Still Restless," and her fateful journey to Genoa City.
HuffPost Canada TV: How was your flight?
Kate Linder: I was on the plane with Evangeline Lilly. Then I saw her when I guest hosted "The Morning Show" when she came on as a guest. Alan Thicke was on board as well!
As a flight attendant, do you critique air service when you fly?
Yes! So funny you ask that, because I do it all the time. I know how I like to be treated, so I'm a really good flight attendant. The key is anticipating someone's need before they ask. I don't want anyone to feel like they're demanding because they're not. I always ask if my passengers need anything.
Do you miss those glamourous days of flying?
Yes, I do. But I still dress up when I fly. But it's such a tough battle to get through the airport these days, which is why I try to make it a fun and fabulous experience.
Why have you kept your job as a flight attendant?
You can't forget who you are. You can't believe your own press. I like living in both worlds. As an actor, it's always good to have other income. Plus, I get to travel!
Have you figured out why "Y&R" is so beloved in Canada?
No, I haven't. But I'm so glad it is! [Laughs] Whenever I visit Canada with friends, they're stunned at the reaction we get walking down the streets here. That's why I wanted to do a charity event here.
Let's talk "Y&R": Were you shocked when you learned they were killing off Delia, Esther's granddaughter?
Yes, I was. It's so sad. I don't know why they made that story decision, but, in terms of acting, everyone has risen to the occasion. I loved Delia! Every time I would see the actress, I would scream, "Sophie!" I will miss her. She is a very talented little girl. Our writers are amazing ... they obviously have a plan but I don't know what that is. All I can do is do is trust the writing and make it work.
How will Delia's death change Chloe and Esther?
It's definitely going to change Chloe. I don't exactly know how, but losing a child is hard one to get over. It's so awful. Esther keeps trying to bring Chloe in closer because Chloe is so hot and cold with her mother. I hope it brings them closer, but I don't know.
Will you submit yourself for Emmy consideration next year?
Yes, I think I will. I had a lot of material this year with Kay and Delia's deaths.
Have you fully mourned Jeanne's death yet?
It's been a tough year -- for me and Esther. It's been hard. I still think Jeanne is here. [Quietly] I didn't get to say goodbye. But I did work with her that last day on the show. I've gone back and watched the show several times because I didn't know what was wrong with me: how could I not see she was not well? Or I didn't want to see it?
She knew, I think. The way she said, "Goodnight" to Jess said it all. It was poetic that Jeanne's last scenes involved you and Jess.
So, yeah, it's been a hard one for me. I catch myself walking towards Jeanne's dressing room to run lines because that's where we rehearsed. Also, our birthdays are close to each other. First it's Jeanne's, then, it's mine, so this month has been tough. We always traded birthday gifts. When my birthday came around, it hit me: Jeanne's not here. All I can do is keep going on in her memory and move on. Because that's what she would want. I like that "Y&R" is keeping Kay and Jeanne's memory alive. I hope they continue to do so.
Do you think Kay bullied Esther?
Katherine and Esther had a push-pull relationship. Mrs. Chancellor loved Esther but Esther drove Mrs. C. at the same time! Mrs. C. knew how much Esther loved her and how much Esther took care of her. Jeanne also knew I adored her.
Did your relationship onscreen mirror your off-screen relationship? Creator William Bell always said he had a knack for unknowingly writing an actor's real life issues into the show.
Sometimes. Mrs. C. and Esther could finish each other sentences. Kay would give Esther this look and Esther knew immediately what she meant -- and we had the same thing in real life.
They were kind of Ricky and Lucy from "I Love Lucy."
I suggested to Jess Walton the other day that Jill should give me a look like Mrs. C. did, so we could honour Jeanne Cooper with Jill and Esther's relationship and move it forward.
There were a lot of layers to Kay and Esther's relationship. I think Kay wanted to toughen Esther up because she loved her; but I also think she looked down at Esther for loving her, because Kay didn't feel she deserved love for a long time because of the whole Phillip drama.
There were so many layers! It was very intricate and involved. As an actor, to be able to play all those levels is so much fun. Why did Kay not tell Esther she was so sick? I think Kay knew Esther would drive her crazy had she known Kay was sick and hover more than usual.
William Bell had the "Upstairs, Downstairs/Downton Abbey" thing down long before it became popular. You first joined "Y&R" as a nameless day player in 1982.
My first line was "Mrs. Chancellor, dinner is served." My character didn't even have a name. My family knew I was an actress at that point because I have never been domestic! Because I knew I didn't have any lines in the beginning, I sensed immediately I had to do something with the character in the beginning to stand out or I'd be gone. So, I took the chance. I decided to make her man hungry. Any time a man came to the door -- whether it was Victor Newman or the plumber -- Esther would go gaga over them. Or one day, Esther was supposed to get the mail ... so I decided to put the letter up in the air and look through it and quietly placed it in my pocket. No one's talked about that letter since!
It was actually Jeanne who named "Esther." Ironically, that was the name of your grandmother.
It was kismet. She had no way of knowing that. It was weird.
I smell a future storyline! Maybe that letter revealed Tucker was Kay's son!
They should revisit that letter! Comedy wasn't done on "Y&R" back then. Bill Bell told me, "I know what you're doing, but don't go too far." He didn't like comedy. And comedy is hard to play. You can't play the comedy; you have to play the real situation.
Do you miss Esther's comedy? She was always so socially clumsy.
Yes! I hope they write more comedy between Jill and Esther. Esther has grown so she's not as dense. I remember Jill said, "Esther, you're not the sharpest knife in the drawer." But Esther's a lot smarter than most people give her credit for.
During soap opera's glory days, did you guys know what a magical time it was, or were you guys too busy coveting film and prime-time TV glamour?
It was magical. And it's still magical. "Y&R" is still the number-one show; we've been number one for 25 years without missing one week. It's our 40th year. Things go in cycles ... soaps are rebounding and will prosper. We're not going anywhere.
Finally, were you surprised that in Jeanne's memoir, "Not Young, Still Restless" that she accused you of going behind her back to the writers to suggest Kay die and Esther inherit everything?
I was surprised! Some of that was hearsay she heard. I would never suggest killing off Katherine Chancellor! I couldn't even speak when I read what she wrote. We talked about it after I read it. I told her it wasn't true. It was unfortunate that she thought that all these years. I would never, ever do anything like that. It's a beautifully written book but there are some things that aren't correct in the book.
Do you plan on writing your own memoirs?
"The Young and the Restless" airs weekdays on Global TV at 4:30 PM EST in Canada and 12:30 PM EST on CBS in the U.S.