‘Young and the Restless’ Soap Opera Star Dies at 76

Doug Griffin/Getty
Doug Griffin/Getty

Soap opera star Jennifer Leak, who appeared in the The Young and the Restless and the film Yours, Mine and Ours, died at her home in Florida on March 18 after a long struggle with a neurological disease, the East Hampton Star reported. She was 76 years old.

Leak’s ex-husband and Yours, Mine and Ours co-star Tim Matheson confirmed her death in a Facebook post on Thursday. She was reportedly diagnosed with progressive supranuclear palsy seven years ago.

“It is with a heavy heart that I share the news of Jennifer Leak’s passing. She wasn’t just my screen sister in ‘Yours, Mine and Ours,’ but also my beloved first wife. Jennifer was a remarkable woman, strong, lovely, and incredibly talented,” wrote Matheson, who was married to Leak from 1968 to 1971.

“My deepest condolences go out to her husband of 47 years, James D’Auria and their multitude of friends.”

Leak was born in Wales but moved to Los Angeles when she was 19 years old to pursue acting. She scored her breakout role when she was cast alongside Lucille Ball in the 1968 film Yours, Mine and Ours, which follows two single parents who raise their combined 18 children together. Leak played Ball’s daughter.

After that, Leak appeared on nighttime soaps including Hawaii Five-O and The Mary Tyler Moore Show before she was cast as Gwen Sherman on The Young and the Restless, which followed two families in Genoa City, Wisconsin. Leak appeared in three seasons of the daytime soap before she moved to New York to appear on Another World, another soap opera.

In New York, she met and married James D’Auria, who was her husband of 47 years. In an interview with the East Hampton Star, he described her as “a shy and private person, never desiring to be the center of attention or having the need for an audience. She saved those feelings and exhibited them only when on camera, and then she became electric.”

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