Credit: John Reilly/JPI (2), ABC

John Reilly passed away on January 9, 2021, at 84 years of age. We’re still not over it — and may never be.

It’s hard to believe, isn’t it, that aside from repeats of classic episodes of General Hospital — and countless primetime series — we’ve seen that mischievous twinkle in John Reilly’s eye for the last time. But make no mistake: Though the actor himself may be gone, his memory lives on, not only in our memories of his storied run as Sean Donely but in the hearts of those he left behind.

“One of the first days I walked on the General Hospital set, this tall, handsome man in a leather jacket sauntered towards me,” recalled Finola Hughes (Anna) in 2021. “In his deep, all-American growl, he welcomed me to the show and told me he would be there for me should I ever need anything.

“Boy, was he true to his word,” she added. “A consummate professional, I would run lines with him each day we worked — we worked a ton. His dressing room was two doors from mine. Many the day I would lounge on the floor in the hallway — don’t ask me why — and we would break down scenes. The three of us — Tristan [Rogers, Robert], John and me — would tear things apart until we were happy with the result and then go on set and perform.”


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When the director called “Cut!” Reilly had a ritual of sorts. As Hughes remembers it, “At the end of each scene, John would do one of two things. He would either bellow his contagious laugh, or he would get a quizzical expression on his face and ask, ‘Was that it? Did we get it?’

“[He was] brilliantly intuitive, yet he was always concerned with the outcome,” she continued. “John’s sensitivity and kindness was most apparent with his family and friends. His love of his wife Liz and their gorgeous daughters was legion. I am so happy I got to experience and see that love firsthand. One of a kind.”

Kimberly McCullough, who played Anna and Robert’s daughter, Robin, seconded that emotion — in so many words. “Gonna miss you, ‘Uncle Sean,’” she Instagrammed after learning of his passing. “John Reilly, you were one of a kind.”


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On your way to the comments to share your favorite memories of Reilly and Sean, stop off at the below photo gallery, which pays tribute to all the stars we lost in the year gone by.