Soap opera actress Jennifer Leak dead at 76 after yearslong battle with neurological disease

NEW YORK — Former actress Jennifer Leak D’Auria, known for her roles on soaps including “The Young and the Restless,” “Another World” and “One Life to Live,” died last week after a yearslong battle with progressive supranuclear palsy, a rare neurological disease. She was 76.

Her husband of 47 years, James D’Auria, confirmed she died on March 18 at their home in Jupiter, Florida, the East Hampton Star reported Thursday.

The bereaved spouse revealed his wife’s brain tissue was donated to the Mayo Clinic, where she was diagnosed and participated in research programs for the disease.

According to the Minnesota-based hospital, progressive supranuclear palsy hinders a patient’s ability to control “body movement, coordination, thinking and other important functions.” Leak had been suffering with the condition for the last seven years.

Beginning her career in the mid-1960s, Leak’s acting credits included roles in TV series such as “Wojek,” “The Good Guys” and “Hawaii Five-O.” In 1968, she played Lucille Ball’s teen daughter in the comedy “Yours, Mine and Ours,” a film about a blended family also starring Henry Fonda.

During the 1970s, the Wales-born actress gained traction on daytime TV in a number of soaps, including “The Young and the Restless,” “Ryan’s Hope,” and “Another World.” She made her way onto “Guiding Light” and “One Life to Live” in the 1980s. Her final acting credit, per IMDb, was as Dr. Hennessy in two episodes of “Loving” in 1992.

After retiring from acting, Leak worked as a sales agent with Devlin McNiff Real Estate in East Hampton. She and her husband later moved to Amagansett before eventually moving to Florida full time in 2017.

Her husband, whom she met in New York City and married in 1977, described her 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’s remains will be buried in the graveyard of her childhood church in Rumney, Wales.