Jennifer Leak’s ex-husband Tim Matheson pays tribute after Young and the Restless star dies aged 76

Tim Matheson is mourning the loss of his ex-wife and co-star Jennifer Leak following the actor’s death aged 76.

Leak, best known for her role as Colleen North in the 1968 film Yours, Mine and Ours, died on 18 March at her home in Jupiter, Florida.

“It is with a heavy heart that I share the news of Jennifer Leak’s passing,” West Wing star Matheson shared on Facebook Wednesday (27 March). “She wasn’t just my screen sister in Yours, Mine and Ours, but also my beloved first wife.”

The Virgin River actor continued: “Jennifer was a remarkable woman, strong, lovely, and incredibly talented. My deepest condolences go out to her husband of 47 years, James D’Auria and their multitude of friends.”

Matheson and Leak played step-siblings in Yours, Mine and Ours – Melville Shavelson’s comedy-drama about a blended family with 18 children who try to stop the marriage between the two parents.

The two actors married in 1968 before getting divorced in 1971. Leak then married architect D’Auria in April 1977.

Tim Matheson and Jennifer Leak (Getty Images)
Tim Matheson and Jennifer Leak (Getty Images)

For the last seven years before her death Leak had been coping with a rare neurological disease, progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP), The East Hampton Star reported.

PSP is caused by increasing numbers of brain cells becoming damaged over time and can cause problems with balance, movement, vision, speech and swallowing. According to the NHS, there are only around 4,000 people with PSP living in the UK.

“Her courage and bravery tried in vain to fight the disease,” D’Auria wrote, according to the Star, noting that she donated her brain tissue to the Mayo Clinic for further research.

D’Auria described his wife as “a shy and private person, never desiring to be the center of attention or having the need for an audience. She saved those feelings and exhibited them only when on camera, and then she became electric.”

Leak was born in Cardiff, Wales, on 28 September 1947. She grew up in Hertfordshire, England, before emigrating to Nova Scotia, Canada; Jerusalem and Toronto.

She started her career in Canada at age 17 when she appeared in the Mike Nichols-directed pilot of the Canadian television series Wojeck. She was cast in Nichols’s The Graduate but was unable to join the production due to immigration difficulties.

She then moved to Los Angeles where she landed her role in Yours, Mine and Ours before pivoting to roles in various television shows, including McMillan and Wife and Hawaii Five-O.

Leak originated the role of Gwen Sherman, who began as a prostitute who fell in love with Greg Foster and ended up becoming a nun in the mid-seventies on the CBS soap The Young and the Restless

In addition to her husband, Leak leaves a brother, Kenneth Leak of Toronto.

Her ashes will be buried in the graveyard of her childhood church in Rumney, Wales.