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Popular Emmy Award Winning Actress Passed Away At 85

Marla Adams, the Emmy-winning actress known for her long-running role as Dina Abbott Mergeron on the CBS daytime drama The Young and the Restless, died Thursday in Los Angeles. She was 85.

A spokesperson for the show confirmed the news to Entertainment Weekly.

Adams played her Y&R character off and on across 37 years and more than 200 episodes. She first joined the soap’s cast in 1983 as the Abbott family matriarch, who had returned to Genoa City to reunite with her estranged family. Dina was the mother to Abbott siblings Ashley (Eileen Davidson), Traci (Beth Maitland), and Jack (Peter Bergman), and had several romantic rendezvous with ex-husband John (Jerry Douglas) over the years.

After her first three years with Y&R, Adams left, only to return for stints in 1991, 1996, and 2008. Her character returned to Genoa City full time from 2017 to 2020, but it was soon revealed that she was living with Alzheimer’s disease. Though Adams was previously nominated for her role in 2018, it wasn’t until 2021 when she won a Daytime Emmy Award for her performance in this particular storyline.

Executive producer and head writer Josh Griffith said in a statement Friday, “On behalf of the entire company of The Young and the Restless, we send our deepest sympathies to Marla’s family. We’re so grateful and in awe of Marla’s incredible performance as Dina Mergeron as both Marla and Dina made an unforgettable mark on Y&R.”

Born Aug. 28, 1938, in Ocean City, N.J., Adams found a love for the stage after she won the Miss Ocean City and Miss Cape May pageants, and finished as a runner-up in the Miss New Jersey pageant.

She went on to study at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, and from there appeared on Broadway in the 1958 production of The Visit, alongside Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne. Her first screen role was as June in the 1961 feature film Splendor in the Grass.

From there she had several roles across daytime television, including a run on The Secret Storm from 1968 to 1974. She also appeared on The Bold and the Beautiful, Days of our Lives, Generations, and Capitol. On the prime-time side, Adams’ credits included The New Dick Van Dyke Show, Harry O, Starsky and Hutch, Marcus Welby M.D., Barnaby Jones, The Love Boat, and Archie Bunker’s Place.

Adams is survived by her daughter, Pam Oates; son, Gunnar Garat; grandchildren, Gefjon and Stone; and great-grandson, Remi.