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The Young and the Restless”
Stage 43 in CBS Studios was the place to be on February 1, when a slew of notables, colleagues and even one ex-governor who showed up to toast Eric Braeden’s 25th anniversary as Genoa City’s mustachioed mogul, Victor Newman. The Emmy winner acknowledged his alter ego’s longtime appeal but admitted that it isn’t something he can really dissect. “The only thing I could say, “he offered, flashing his famous grin, “is that I try to play [Victor] as honestly as I can, and I don’t take any [bleep] from anyone in real life or on screen.”

“I’ve been here at CBS for a while, and whenever we needed people [for politically incorrect or real time with Bill Maher] who are smart and famous and good looking… and they weren’t available, we’d go right to Eric,” Bill Maher joked. On a more serious note, the comedian thanked Braeden for always being a gracious guest. “Whenever he did POLITICALLY INCORRECT, it was a good show.”

Davidson praised her co-star for “being a bold, fearless, passionate and unpredictable actor who cares so deeply about his work.

“He’s Truly an angel in the City of Angels,” raved Tom LaBonge, councilman for the fourth council district in Los Angeles. The politician saluted Braeden, who is known for his interest in politics and activism in the community, by bringing him a loaf of pumpkin bread (an L.A. tradition) and unveiling a proclamation that designated February 1 in L.A. Eric Braeden Day.

“I’ve been watching the soap since 1990, [when] I came here from Romania,” revealed Olympic gold-medal-winning gymnast Nadia Comaneci, who met Braeden through a mutual friend. “We had dinner together, and the rest is history!”

Braeden admitted that it was difficult to play on screen a hostile father-and-son relationship because of his own strong bond with son Christian, who he called his “pride and joy.”

The cake, which was made by Sherman Oaks’ Layers, owned by Janelle Paige, depicted a copy of the portrait that hangs in Victor Newman’s office. Beneath the carefully crafted frosting was pure chocolate – which the actor himself requested.

Scott and Braeden toasted their success as Genoa City’s most enduring love story. “Thank you for being you , baby!” Scott gushed.

While Heather Tom, who played Braeden’s on-screen daughter, Victoria, sent a love letter from New York, Joshua Morrow, who plays Victor’s wayward son, Nick, called the Emmy winner a mentor. “It’s been an honor to be apart of your family on the show.”

Braeden got hugs from Meg Bennett (ex-Julia) and Cooper. “I have thousands of memories of working with Eric,” Bennett shared. “I remember that his first day on the was mine too. We were in a police station because Paul Williams had just stolen Julia’s car, and Victor wanted to beat the stuffing out of him! I also remember the way Eric would always say, ‘Julia!’ It was classic.”

Shemar More (Malcolm), who attended the event with Christian Jules LeBlanc (Michael) and Bell, said that the show’s success had a lot to do with Braeden’s top-notch performances. “He’s the man!”

Former swimming sensation Esther Williams joined her stepson, Lorenzo Lamas (Hector, THE BOLD & THE BEAUTIFUL) and his fiancé, Barbra Moore, to congratulate Braeden. “I go back further than anyone here with Eric,” shared the show-biz vet, who co-starred with the man of the hour in 100 Rifles. The former Hans Gudegast revealed to the audience that Williams helped him select the name Eric Braeden – that he eventually made famous.

Beautiful women are a part of Victor – and Braeden’s – life! Michelle Stafford (Phyllis), Lauralee Bell (Christine) and Tracey E. Bregman (Lauren) have all shared scenes with the gent. Bregman admits that whenever she worked with Braeden, she had an attack of nerves. “He’s just so good, it’s intimidating!”

The guest of honor took the time to thank the show’s co-creator, William J. Bell, those who work behind the scenes to make Y&R a success, and his personal publicist, Charles Sherman, for pulling the event together, and the many notables for attending the celebration. “I’m deeply appreciative of all of you,” he offered sincerely and then struggled to contain his feelings. “I swore I would not become emotional, but 25 years is a hell of a [long] time.”

No one can top Victor in toughness – but Bryton (Devon), Michael Graziadei (Daniel) and Moore give it a good try! Bryton remembered that his first scenes on the sudser were with Braeden. “He was very welcoming to me and gave me some great advice. He’s a solid guy.”

Victoria Rowell (Dru) and Y&R’s co-creators, Bill and Lee Phillip Bell, were on hand to honor Braeden. Rowell went up on stage to say “I love you” to the show biz vet in his native German.

Morrow’s wife Tobe, who is expecting the couple’s second child, stopped by to wish Braeden congratulations.

“Family means everything to me,” said Braeden with wife Dale, son Christian, daughter-in-law Stacey and the newest Braeden, 14-month-old Tatiana.

“When I’m interviewed, people would ask me what my favorite TV program is [and] I’d say Y&R, [which] shocked some people, laughed Minnesota’s ex-govenor, Jesse Ventura, who swapped behind –the-scene stories with Keith Hamilton Cobb (Damon), supervising producer Ed Scott and Diamont. A man of Braeden’s stature got the whole VIP treatment from other VIPs like B&B’s executive producer/headwriter, Bradley Bell; CBS chairman Les Moonves; senior vice-president of daytime programming Barbra Bloom; and CBS entertainment president Nina Tassler. Moonves joked that he and Braeden have shared many an evening discussing politices. “We may not always agree, but I consider you a gentlemen, a wonderful actor and a good friend.”