Gina Tognoni, Tom Hallick Gina Tognoni, Tom Hallick

What's 36 years between appearances? Tom Hallick, an original cast member of The Young and the Restless, is returning to the CBS soap but not as Brad Eliot, the heartthrob neurosurgeon turned news reporter he played from 1973 to '78. Instead, on Sept. 26, Hallick will be seen as a kindly truck driver who helps an on-the-lam Phyllis (Gina Tognoni) find her way back to Genoa City. The setup is a trippy homage to the premiere episode of Y&R — in fact, the soap's very first scene — which had Brad getting a lift from a truck driver heading to GC.

"They found the same kind of truck and dug out the old script — only now I have the truck driver's dialogue and Gina has mine," Hallick tells TV Guide Magazine. "It was weird recreating the scene that way, but really pretty wonderful."

It wasn't exactly old-home week. "Y&R still shoots at CBS on Stage 43 and they gave me Jeanne Cooper's old dressing room, so that much was familiar, but so much time has passed that the cast and the crew were all new to me," says Hallick, who left Y&R even before the show's longest-running vets, Doug Davidson (Paul) and Melody Thomas Scott (Nikki), came onboard.

Hallick still regrets his decision to exit the soap. "I was winning 'best actor' awards from TV by Day and Daytime TV — the big fan magazines of the time — and it all went to my head," he says. "NBC kept coming to me with these offers to work for them for a lot more money and I was very brash and impatient so I left Y&R. In retrospect, it was a very bad idea."

Hallick says he got caught in a reshuffling of execs at NBC and his development deal went pretty much nowhere. Eventually, as a consolation prize, the network put him on Days of Our Lives, where he played banker Maxwell Hathaway. "The experience was awful," he says with a laugh. "I won't even go into why. You had to be there."

Still looking good, Hallick says he was asked to return to Y&R without an audition or even a meeting. "I'd been away for a hundred years, so they were really taking a chance," cracks the actor. "I could have shown up with no teeth."

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