While Victoria Rowell appeared in the special episode commemorating the life of Kristoff St. John, her character of Drucilla Winters returning to THE YOUNG & THE RESTLESS for Neil’s funeral was more difficult because she is currently deceased. Rowell joined the soap in May of 1990 and quickly turned Dru into a fan-favorite character. Two other actresses have played the role, however — Dawn McMillan filled in while Rowell was on maternity leave in 1996, and Kent Masters King portrayed the character for some episodes in 2000 after Rowell’s exit. Although Rowell returned to Y&R in 2002, Dru met a tragic end in 2007.
When Drucilla “Dru” Barber was first introduced, she was illiterate and was taught to read by private detective Nathan Hastings. She originally was at odds with sister Olivia Barber, but the siblings soon buried the hatchet. After an ill-advised job posing naked for a magazine (Jill Abbott thankfully destroyed the film), Dru became a professional model. She fell in love with and married Neil Winters, but also became close with his brother, Malcolm Winters, who developed a crush on her. While under the influence of heavy cold medicine, Drucilla slept with Malcolm believing him to be her husband. When she became pregnant, Dru and Malcolm agreed to keep their affair a secret and not to determine the baby’s paternity. After giving birth to her daughter, Lily Winters, Dru’s marriage to Neil began to fall apart as she wanted a career and he wanted her to be a housewife. Eventually, Dru moved to Europe to continue her modeling career and took Lily with her.
Dru returned to Genoa City in 2002 hoping for help in raising her now 14-year-old daughter. But it was they who helped Neil cope with his drinking problem. Dru and Neil rekindled their relationship and were married in Japan. They were able to protect Lily from losing anything more than her virginity when she got mixed up with Kevin Fisher, and Dru convinced Neil they should foster troubled teen Devon Hamilton. But when Malcolm returned from the dead, he insisted on a paternity test and they learned that Lily was really his child. While they agreed to keep the secret from Neil, he and Lily eventually learned the truth.
After Neil dumped her and started a flirtation with Carmen Mesta, Dru publicly slandered her rival and privately destroyed her expensive clothes. But when she physically attacked Carmen, Phyllis Summers caught the whole thing on video and gave the evidence to Carmen who used it to ruin Dru’s life. She was fired from her job and arrested, but on the plus side, Neil ended his relationship with Carmen to stand by his wife.
Receiving probation and court ordered therapy, Dru was free to focus on Indigo, the nightclub she and Neil were launching. But on opening night, Carmen’s body was found and Devon was arrested for the crime. After Dru began seeing Carmen around town, Neil had her committed, and it was later revealed that David Chow and Carmen’s look-alike twin sister had tried to make her seem insane. (Also, Jana Hawkes was the real murderer, so Devon was cleared.)
Dru agreed to be Sharon’s maid of honor at her upcoming wedding to Jack Abbott, and accompanied her and Phyllis on a photo shoot. But when Phyllis threatened to reveal Sharon’s affair with Brad, Dru struggled with her over the phone and fell over a cliff with Sharon! Although Sharon was later found injured, search and rescue teams only found the remains of Dru’s jacket. So while no body was ever recovered, Dru was presumed dead. But you know what they say about soap deaths when there’s no body!
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