The soap opera community has lost one of its most loved stars today. Joanne Cooper, star madam of the hit show "The Young and the Restless," passed away in her sleep Wednesday morning.

Cooper, 84, was an icon in Hollywood, having played her role as Katherine Chancellor for all but six months of the show's run. She was the longest tenured character ever for the program, clocking a remarkable forty years on the program.

"I never wanted to be a movie star," she said in an interview, according to Entertainment Weekly. "I always wanted to be an actress, one of the best. And I am."

There were many poignant moments during her run on television, as her feisty character Katherine would routinely find herself in the middle of highly dramatic situations. Perhaps she is most fondly remembered, however, for her role in popularizing cosmetic surgery.

In 1984 Cooper decided to have facial reconstructive surgery, and rather than take a hiatus from the show, it was decided that her character would go through the process as well. She was then able to share her struggles and improvements with all of the fans of "The Young and the Restless."

"It opened up reconstructive surgery for so many people, youngsters getting things done," she said. "To this day, people will come up to me and say, 'Thank you so much for doing that. My mom or I had something done, and not just cosmetic surgery.' That was an incredible experience in my life."

Those who knew her best remember Cooper's strong spirit and bulldog-like personality. Though her family did not disclose what illness she had been suffering with for the last month, they did confirm that she fought it bravely.

"She has been a blaze her entire life, that beacon, that boxer I spoke of earlier," said her son Corbin Bernsen. "She went the full twelve rounds and by unanimous decision... won!"

Cooper won 11 Emmy nominations and a trophy for best actress in 2008. She leaves behind three children and eight grandchildren.