Victor Newman — played by Eric Braeden — has been a character on The Young and the Restless for over 35 years. Amid a sea of successful soap operas, the ruthless head of Newman Enterprises is a household name amongst fans.
Unbeknownst to many, Victor wasn’t born with a silver spoon in his mouth like most Genoa City residents, including his family.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. His Real Name is Christian Miller
Victor Newman’s real name is Christian Miller. He was born to a poor family in Buffalo, New York and is the son of Cora — now deceased — and Albert Miller. He also has a younger brother, Matt Miller, and older sister, Rienette Miller. Victor’s mother — believing she could only survive with one of two children — put him in an orphanage when his father left. When his mother never came back for him, Victor made the decision to make something of himself. Christian changed his name to Victor Newman. Victor stood for “victorious” and Newman meant “new man.”
Eventually, Victor started Newman Enterprises and built it from scratch to the force it is today.
2. He Was Only Supposed to Be a Short-Term Character
Victor Newman was initially supposed to be on Y&R for eight to 12 weeks. Genoa City’s main antagonist was the brainchild of Y&R creator William J. Bell and made to be a “despicable, contemptible, unfaithful wife abuser, according to Liquisearch. ” Victor — who debuted in 1980 — was supposed to be killed off.
In Ron Simon and Robert J. Thompson‘s 1997 book Worlds Without End: The Art and History of the Soap Opera, Victor’s initial shelf life was explained.
“[Victor] would last between eight to twelve weeks, at which time he was to be shot by his beautiful wife.”
Despite his early reluctance to stick with the soap genre, Braeden ended up signing a six-month deal to stay put. Bell then redeveloped Victor as a redeemable character. Although Victor was vindictive, he became someone that always cared for his family.
3. He Broke the Fourth Wall With a Zellers Commercial
In 1998, Victor appeared as a spokesperson — shown in the above video — for Zellers. Fans got to see a more comedic side to Braeden, who filmed multiple ad spots for the Canadian discount store. In the commercials, he broke the fourth wall by speaking to the camera. By the end of it, he has his nose against it.
On May 24, 1999, Strategy Online stated that Braeden’s in-character pairing with Zellers garnered the following:
“Considerable praise in the marketing community – and small wonder. Not only does it perform the considerable task of balancing an affordability message with strong branding, it does so in a category seldom noted for the quality of strategic thinking that goes into advertising.”
4. He’s a Self-Made Billionaire Business Tycoon
Growing up in an orphanage certainly doesn’t have its perks as Victor had to start his business from scratch. Before Newman Enterprises’ inception, Victor worked at Chancellor Industries; a three-pronged conglomerate that featured Newman Cosmetics, a venture capital division and a real estate division. After a brief downfall due to the Paragon situation, Newman Enterprises now stands strong again in Genoa City. The business is located at Newman Towers.
On July 11, 2011, Braeden dished to TV Guide on the ways in which he doesn’t relate to his money-motivated character.
“Money makes a lot of things happen for Victor. My God almighty, that’s something else that I, Eric Braeden, would never do. I always confront things directly. But when that doesn’t work for Victor, he gets out his wallet […] If you are abusive to him, he will be abusive to you. No one gets away with that. I will not allow anyone to cross that line with the character.”
5. Braeden Admitted That He Doesn’t Like Women Defeating Victor
In May 2011, Braeden was interviewed by TV Guide’s Michael Logan, who queried him on a controversial scene in which Victor threw ex-wife Diane (Maura West) out of the back of an ambulance. The character’s actions left many viewers offended.
While Braeden understood the viewers’ displeasure, he stated that Victor “doesn’t give a s–t. And he doesn’t take any s–t.”
Later in the interview, he was asked whether he thought Victor was “too macho, too chauvinistic, too much?” Braeden — evidently not happy that Victoria (Heather Tom) one-upped Victor — stated the following:
“If you are abusive to him, he will be abusive to you. No one gets away with that. I will not allow anyone to cross that line with the character. There was a scene they wrote a long, long time ago where his daughter, Victoria [then played by Heather Tom], slaps Victor and I was outraged by that. I said, “Are you kidding me? You can’t do this to Victor Newman!” Ultimately, I went along with it but only after they let me end the scene by warning her, in no uncertain terms, to never do that again.”