Thom Bierdz 411
BIRTHDATE: March 25
HOMETOWN: Kenosha, WI
MARITAL STATUS: Single
YEARS ON SHOW: 1986-89; 2004; 2009-present
Actor/artist/author Thom Bierdz has endured much tragedy in his life, but has a long history of starting over.
The Kenosha, WI native began acting professionally when he was in his early 20s. In 1985, he had a small role in the hit St. Elmo's Fire; the next year, he appeared in THE GLADIATOR and HIGHWAY TO HEAVEN.
Meantime, he joined Y&R as Phillip Chancellor III, son of Jill and Phillip II. Almost immediately, Bierdz was thrown into two juicy storylines as Jill and Kay battled for the young man's respect and teens Nina and Cricket fought for his affections (Nina "won." She and Phillip had a baby, Phillip IV, and wed in 1989). In real life, Bierdz had also become a heartthrob, but was keeping secret the truth that he's gay.
Phillip was killed off in a drunk driving accident in 1989 and Bierdz went on to try his luck in Hollywood. However, a month after he left the show, his brother Troy, a paranoid schizophrenic, beat their mother to death.
Though devastated, Bierdz continued to work and landed small roles throughout the '90s on series such as MELROSE PACE and MURDER, SHE WROTE. Meanwhile, he took on other jobs to pay the bills and has shared stories about running into former co-stars while serving as a waiter at posh events.
During that time, he focused on painting and began to make a name for himself in the art world. He also began to write a book about his family's tragedy and his life as a closeted gay man — and took on the stage name Zoey Drake, per his other brother Craig's request.
In 2000, Bierdz suffered another blow when Craig killed himself. The actor went back to using his birth name and continued his life as an artist and actor. In 2004, he briefly returned to Y&R when Phillip's ghost visited a drunken Kay. Bierdz's art career really began to take off around 2005 and he used his work as a means to raise money for various charities. His critically-acclaimed memoir, Forgiving Troy, was released in 2007.
The actor, who was now openly gay, was invited to return to Y&R in 2009 with an interesting twist: It was revealed that Phillip had faked his death 20 years earlier because he wanted to hide his homosexuality from his family and widow, Nina. Though the plot was absurd (Digest named it "Most Preposterous Storyline" in the 2009 Best & Worst issue)
, the tale focused on Nina and Phillip's moving relationship, and how they were able to become close friends. Phillip also had to forge a bond with his now-adult son, Chance, who'd never known his father.
While he's not in a frontburner storyline, Bierdz frequently appears on the show. Off-screen, he's one of the most candid actors and has shared the details of much of his life, including his decision to get reconstructive plastic surgery.