The first moment Neil Winters entered the scene on The Young and the Restless in 1991, fans had no idea just how much life had changed in Genoa City. Neil brought a calm, a warmth, and a much-needed diversity to the soap world, and he became a staple for the entire Winters family. As more members were added throughout the years, the Winters family brought fun and drama that have continuously kept them in the limelight. Although we lost Neil way too soon, the Winterses are still showing that they will be around to stay.
When Malcolm arrived in 1994, triangles became part of the norm for the Winters brothers, who despised each other at times almost as much as they loved each other. The spotlight shone on their rivalry when Malcolm took advantage of Neil's inebriated wife, Drucilla, who was impaired due to cold medication, which later resulted in the birth of Lily. However, the tables were turned years later when Malcolm discovered that Neil was actually the father of Moses, the son Malcolm thought was his by Sofia. Even though the brothers constantly pushed each other's buttons, they truly loved each other, as Malcolm stressed during Neil's memorial. Sure, they might have been half-brothers, but when it came to their love, respect, and even rivalry, there was no halfway about it for Neil and Malcolm.
Neil Winters was admirably portrayed by Kristoff St. John, who had started out as a child actor. I remember him very well from playing Booker Brown on an episode of Happy Days when the show had been in the process of spinning off Laverne & Shirley. Kristoff St. John completely held his own, even at his young age, against the talent of such icons as Ron Howard, Henry Winkler, Penny Marshall, and Cindy Williams. I recognized him immediately as Neil on Y&R, as he shined brightly while he became the leader of his family and helped them through the trials and tribulations of their lives.
At one point, from 2009 to 2011, Malcolm Winters was played by another child actor, Darius McCrary, who had the regular role of Eddie Winston of Family Matters, which also starred a very young Bryton James, who was Richie Crawford then and grew into becoming the lead character of Devon Hamilton on Y&R. But, of course, the fans remember Shemar Moore as Malcolm most, since his gorgeous looks caught the eye of every young lady while he was on his way to becoming a fan favorite. Once Malcolm exited Genoa City, Shemar became a primetime star on Criminal Minds and currently on S.W.A.T. Shemar Moore was destined for greatness.
The Winters brothers needed the proper enticements to aid their rivalry and the Barber sisters certainly fit the bill. Dru had the distinction of not only having a fantastic entrance as a troubled teen unwanted by her mother, but also of having one of the best exits ever by falling off a cliff during a photoshoot. And her sister, Olivia, kept Dru reeling, since Liv was a successful doctor, which was rubbed into Dru's face at almost every turn. The sisters were the right spices to add to an already saucy situation between the brothers, which kept things active and entertaining.
Later, Lily and Devon were added and then blended into the Winters family, and they were always welcome additions. Despite starting out on a rocky road with Daniel, Lily ended up being half of what would prove to be a long-term couple for a soap when she was paired up with the older Cane Ashby. Lily and Cane showed that love was color blind, even as she fought ovarian cancer, while Mac was pregnant with their twins. When Neil and Dru adopted Devon, Neil would have no way of knowing then that he would later battle his own son for the hand (and other body parts) of a selfish vixen whose only motive was to ruin the Winterses. But more on Hilary later.
In 1991, Drucilla Barber wished for a smooth, slow-dancing man to show off in front of Olivia and Nathan as the man she had pretended to be dating, and it was fate that her wish was granted when she ran into in a young, dashing, and charming Neil Winters in the Jabot hall. And this magical meeting began the saga of Neil and Dru and the rest of the Winters family. After he showed her a few dance moves, it was obvious that Neil and Dru wouldn't need to pretend to be crazy about each other for long. It didn't matter that Dru had only wanted to use Neil to move on to her sister's man, as she so eloquently put it, because it was destiny that Neil and Dru would be together to forge ahead into soap history.
When Malcolm walked into Neil's office in 1994, the look on Neil's face pretty much said it all. Neil was not at all happy to see his long-lost, little brother...uh, half-brother. With his devil-may-care attitude, Malcolm thought Neil was rather stuffy, even if Malcolm was impressed by his brother's office. A skeptical Neil listened as Malcolm claimed to be "a changed man," who, after graduating high school, got a job as a mechanic. While Neil hoped that Malcolm was just passing through, Malcolm was ready to stick around -- and boy, were the fans glad he did! The bickering brothers brought so much angst and entertainment in their rivalry, up until Malcolm pulled up stakes and left town.
In 2005, it was the Winters family to the rescue when a lion stared Devon down at the zoo. The ferocious kitty looked at Devon as if he were a tasty snack, so it's no wonder he was shaking in his boots (Devon, not the lion). As he slowly eased down the steps to save Devon from being the beast's dinner, a brave Malcolm did his best impersonation of Mighty Mouse (you know, cats like mice), almost yelling out, "Here I come to save the day," when he became the feline whisperer, although he seemed to be whispering more to Devon than to the lion. Malcolm held his hands out to the lion, as if to entrance him, while Neil grabbed Devon and rushed him up to safety. Hooray! Our heroes! Thus, Devon remained alive to be a member of the Winters family. Such a happy ending.
In California, Neil, Nick, and Phyllis all joined forces and searched for runaway teens Lily and Daniel, as the two young lovebirds hung out on the "magical" beach, trying to build a campfire. And abracadabra, Lily made the fire appear out of thin air. Or in thin air. With a match. Meanwhile, back home, with the apartment feeling empty, Devon decided to search for a job. And Malcolm gave Sharon a shoulder to lean on when he saw that she was missing Cassie. Oh, yes, by 2006, the Winterses had already proven just how important they had become to everyone in Genoa City.
Later in 2006, Neil and Drucilla expressed how thrilled they were that Devon could hear with his new cochlear implant and how excited they were about their decision to adopt the teen. With the stroke of a pen and an official legal ceremony, Devon became a legitimate member of the Winters family, although he still regretted that his mom had been ruled by drugs. But Neil and Dru glowed as they expressed how proud they were of their son, while Lily was happy to have a brother, "just like that." It was certainly time for the Winterses to celebrate their new family of four, and the gifts given to Devon's new parents made the event festive, as Dru's sign humorously stated, "It's a BOY!"
It's a shame that there couldn't have been another week of stories for the Winters family after 2006, since they have had so much more story to tell. One of the most compelling stories was when Neil and Devon both pursued the sensuous but self-absorbed Hilary, played by Mishael Morgan. I wish we could have seen an episode of when a blind Neil was also blind to the fact that his son was having an affair with his wife. Oh, yes, Devon and Hilary certainly pulled the wool over his eyes, since Neil refused to see what was right in front of his face, even if his eyes were unable to see it, since Hilary's desired house with the white picket fence had exploded in his face. And once he discovered the truth, Neil was so angry that he swore revenge on Devon. Yeah, Hilary sure brought the drama.
However, Hilary also brought one of the heaviest romantic stories when she married the love of her life on her deathbed. Even her archrival, Lily, was in tears as Devon and Hilary said their I dos, shortly before Hilary died. The loss of Hilary left a big hole in the Winters world that Elena and Amanda have been unable to fill. Yet there's still hope, since Amanda could become more like her look-alike, which would certainly stir things up. Or with Billy already working with Lily, by adding Mr. Abbott to the mix, the fans could be treated to a Devon/Amanda/Billy triangle or even a Devon/Elena/Amanda/Billy quadrangle. Yet, with Neil gone, Lily and Devon will miss the loving support and advice he would always give them, and that can never be replaced.
If Jill were to call him "the great Victor Newman" now, she'd probably choke on the words.
It's so hard to believe that Hope was Adam's mother. She was so nice, sweet, and innocent -- and Adam's not. It really is a case of like father, like son.
Beware, Genoa City, whenever Lily is behind the wheel, driving. Neil certainly was more fortunate than Hilary was later. Man, Lily was really spinning out of control on the ice.
What fun to watch an actress play a character in an episode one day and to see another actress play the very same character the next day. First, we got to see Heather Tom put her own spin on Victoria Newman, and the next thing you know, Amelia Heinle was portraying Victoria. Presto chango!
Wow, Ted Shackleford...I miss seeing him as either of his characters, William or Jeffrey Bardwell. And believe it or not, I even miss Gloria. Between constantly butting into her sons' lives and chasing after her own glory, there was never a dull moment when Gloria was around. Both William and Jeffrey found that out the hard way.
Wouldn't it be interesting if Y&R offered a week of episodes where various Y&R cast members paid tribute to past guest stars, whom they had especially enjoyed working with during the run of the show? The guest star in question could be introduced at the beginning, before showing the episode. That would be so much fun -- and might even be somewhat revealing.
Until next time, please stay tuned. And take care and please stay safe!
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