John McCook: Meet ‘The Bold and the Beautiful’s Longest-Running Actor

For over 35 years, John McCook has portrayed the patriarch of the Forrester family, Eric Forrester, in The Bold and the Beautiful. The number of years he has spent in the role makes Eric Forrester one of the longest-running characters on American television. John McCook joined The Bold and the Beautiful in 1987, and on its first episode, which premiered on March 23, 1987.

Having originated and portrayed the character of Eric Forrester, John McCook is the longest-running actor on The Bold and the Beautiful. He shares the record with actress Katherine Kelly Lang, who plays Brooke Logan on the show. However, while several actresses have portrayed Brooke Logan on the show, John McCook has been the only actor to ever play Eric Forrester. Here’s more about John McCook’s life and career.

John McCook Began His Career In Theater

young John McCook

Decades before becoming one of television’s most popular actors, John McCook performed as a stage actor. Acting was one thing McCook has always been passionate about, and he set his mind on being the best. His journey to television stardom began after Jack L. Warner discovered him. Warner, who was famously known for being the president and driving force behind the Warner Bros. Studios, found John McCook in a production of the musical West Side Story

John McCook’s First Major Role Was Lance Prentiss

John McCook as Lance Prentiss

Lance Prentiss might not be a popular name for today’s The Young and the Restless audiences. However, older Y&R fans from the mid-1970s to early 1980s would recognize the character as the eldest son of Vanessa Prentiss (K.T. Stevens) and the father of Brooks Prentiss. Playing Lance Prentiss as a series regular on The Young and the Restless was John McCook’s first major screen role. Like his character in The Bold and the Beautiful, John McCook originated the role of Lance Prentiss, playing the character from 1976 to 1990. 

John McCook exited The Young and the Restless after it moved to the hour format. Actor Dennis Cole was recast as Lance Prentiss and portrayed the character until it was written off in 1982. Interestingly, before securing the Lance Prentiss role on The Young and the Restless, John McCook’s only acting credits were guest appearances in several TV shows. With his screen debut occurring in 1964, this would mean it took McCook 12 years to land his first major role. 

With the success of his Eric Forrester character on The Bold and the Beautiful, John McCook returned to The Young and the Restless in 1996. He made the crossover appearances in several episodes until 2021. His appearance on The Young and the Restless was one of the soap opera’s most iconic crossover appearances.

He Has Also Starred In Other TV Shows

John McCook in The Bold and the Beautiful

While Eric Forrester is undeniably John McCook’s career-defining role, he has also raked up credits in other TV shows. Before landing the role of Eric Forester, McCook starred in the NBC police procedural series Dragnet. He also guest-starred in CHiPs (1990), Diff’rent Strokes (1982), Magnum, P.I. (1983–1984), and Highway to Heaven (1986). In his post-The Bold and the Beautiful roles, McCook has appeared in TV shows such as Acapulco H.E.A.T. (1998), Arrested Development (2005), and on the TV game show Jeopardy! (2017).

John McCook Has Been Married Three Times

John McCook and wife Laurette Spang

If there’s one thing John McCook shares with his famous Eric Forrester character, it has to be the multiple marriages they have been in. The Bold and the Beautiful audiences have watched Eric Forrester go from marrying Stephanie Douglas, Brooke Logan, Sheila Carter, Donna Logan, and Quinn Fuller. In real life, John McCook, too, has had to walk down the aisle three times. McCook’s first marriage was to Marilyn McPherson, whom he married on August 8, 1965. However, the couple split in 1971, having finalized the divorce in September of that year.

By the following year, John McCook married British-American dancer and actress Juliet Prowse on September 9, 1972. The marriage produced the actor’s first child, a son Seth McCook, born a month before their marriage. The couple was married for seven years before divorcing on September 5, 1979. John McCook’s third marriage was to retired actress Laurette Spang. The couple married on February 16, 1980. The couple have remained together since 1980, with the marriage producing three children—Jake McCook (born 1981), Rebecca Jeanne McCook (born 1983), and Molly McCook (born 1990). 

John McCook Is A Daytime Emmy Award Winner

John McCook

Besides his work on television, John McCook also has credits in movies. However, he’s more famous for his work in television because most of his movie roles and films haven’t been astronomical successes. Throughout his career, McCook has received several accolades. Unsurprisingly, all of his award nominations and wins have been for his work in soap operas. 

John McCook received his first Daytime Emmy in 2001 for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series for his performance in The Bold and the Beautiful. Although he has received four Daytime Emmy nominations, John McCook clinched his first win in 2022. If you enjoyed reading about The Bold and the Beautiful actor John McCook, read 7 The Bold and The Beautiful storylines that need closure.

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