Remembering the Unique Soap Star Who Died On the Same Day as His Character
Daytime had never known — and would never know — another Josh Ryan Evans.
Join us, won’t you, in raising a Martimmy to Josh Ryan Evans? It was on August 5 back in 2002 that the Passions scene stealer, just 20 years old at the time, died after undergoing a medical procedure related to a congenital heart condition. That very same day also marked the on-air passing of Timmy Lenox, his beloved character on the NBC soap.
The plan had been for Evans to continue on as Timmy, albeit as an angel. Which sounds strange until you remember that Passions had a supernatural bent second only to, say, Dark Shadows. In fact, Timmy himself was a doll that had been animated by witchy Tabitha Lenox (Juliet Mills); as every good villainess does, she needed a sidekick.
More: Three soaps cancelled in one day
The sorceress, however, got more than she bargained for in Timmy, who was as good as she was evil. Not only did he thwart her every attempt to terrorize sweet Charity Standish, he lost his life in a battle royale with a zombified version of his crush. (What? We told you it was one wackadoo show.)
After Evans’ passing, co-star and friend Mills tried to see a glimmer of a silver lining in the dark clouds that had gathered overhead. He “was a showbiz kid through and through,” she told Soap Opera Digest. “That’s what he loved more than anything — showbiz. It was a legendary thing to do [to die the same day as his character did on screen]. He made a big bang when he went.”
And he wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. Above, you can watch the scene in which Tabitha first brought Evans to life as Timmy. And below, if you’re so inclined, you can peruse a photo gallery that revisits highlights of Passions’ entire run.
<p>Even before NBC had premiered <em>Passions</em> in 1999, we knew that we were in for a wild ride. Its creator was James E. Reilly, the daring <em>Days of Our Lives</em> headwriter who’d buried Carly Manning alive and given Marlena Evans the ultimate “The devil made me do it!” excuse. Still, nothing could have prepared us for what <em>Passions</em> held in store — at least not until we’d met wicked witch Tabitha Lenox (Juliet “Nanny” Mills) and her living doll, Timmy (Josh Evans).</p>
<p>When Miguel Lopez-Fitzgerald (future Hallmark Channel heartthrob Jesse Metcalfe) took a soak in the Jacuzzi with true love Charity Standish, he found himself in not only literal hot water but figurative. Why’s that? As you might have been able to guess from the photo, she’d jumped on the zombie bandwagon years before <em>The Walking Dead</em> had reanimated its first corpse.</p>
<p>Miguel’s sister Theresa (Lindsay Korman, later Arianna on <em>Days of Our Lives</em> and Cara on <em>All My Children</em>) was kinda-sorta the heroine of the show. But she was also so sneaky that it wasn’t entirely a shock when she wound up “down under” with card-carrying baddie Julian Crane (Ben Masters) and a Who’s Who of Who’s Been Evil throughout history.</p>
<p>Though Miguel and Theresa’s big brother Luis (Galen Gering, now Rafe on <em>Days of Our Lives</em>) and Nurse Precious (BamBam) look so cozy that they could be posing for a <em>Soap Opera Digest</em> cover, she actually wasn’t his true love. Who was? We’ll get to her; stay tuned. Or, well, keep scrolling. You know what we mean!</p>
<p>Through a series of incidents too mind-boggling and complicated to possibly sum up in a single caption, a soused Dr. Eve Russell (Tracey Ross) found herself tasked with reattaching sometime lover Julian’s severed johnson. And miraculously, she pulled off the feat, too. Just one teensy problem, though: She put it back on upside-down!</p>
<p>So mortified was Eve’s daughter Whitney (Brook Kerr, now <em>General Hospital</em> doc Portia) to think that she’d accidentally hooked up with her half brother that she formed her own, ahem, sister act — with soap vet Julia Duffy (better known for <em>Newhart</em> and <em>Designing Women</em>) lending moral support. Emphasis on the “moral.”</p>
<p>We knew that they were destined to be together from the moment Theresa dumped fish on the object of her obsession, Richie Rich Ethan Winthrop (future primetime funnyman Travis Schuldt). But off screen, an altogether different love story was being told, one that put… Wait for it…</p>
<p>While Theresa took a hands-on approach with the aptly-named Fox Crane (<em>This Is Us</em> leading man Justin Hartley), their portrayers fell for one another for real, tying the knot in 2004 and welcoming into the world a daughter shortly thereafter.</p>
<p>The castmates’ marriage didn’t last — they split in 2012 — but they remain close. In fact, when Hartley came under fire during his divorce from second wife Chrishell Stause (formerly <em>Days of Our Lives</em>’ Jordan), <a href="https://soaps.sheknows.com/the-young-and-the-restless/news/574995/lindsay-korman-hartley-defends-young-restless-justin-hartley/" target="_blank">his ex came to his defense</a>, saying, “Today, I appreciate Justin for not only being [an] exemplification of a solid man but for being my dear friend and [a] devoted father to our daughter. Simply put, for being a family.”</p>
<p>Thoughout <em>Passions</em>’ run, Theresa fought tooth and nail to keep Ethan away from fellow moneybags Gwen Hotchkiss (here Natalie Zea, so good on <em>The Detour</em>). When the cameras stopped rolling, however, nothing could separate Ethan and Gwen’s portrayers. <a href="https://soaps.sheknows.com/gallery/soap-actors-real-life-longest-marriages-couples-photos/natalie-zeatravis-schuldt/" target="_blank">They married in 2014</a> after being one another’s significant other for a decade.</p>
<p>Rarely did <em>Passions</em> take itself seriously, much less <em>too</em> seriously. So the odds were as good that you’d tune in on any given day and find Tabitha looking like she was dressed for Halloween as they were that you’d find Miguel only half-dressed. Did he even <em>own</em> a shirt?</p>
<p>When Schuldt left the role of Ethan to take primetime by storm, the show was faced with the impossible task of finding a replacement who was handsome and talented, charming and charismatic… and we’ll be damned. The powers that be rose to the challenge, bringing in Eric Martsolf (now <em>Days of Our Lives</em>’ Brady) to make his daytime debut.</p>
<p>It probably didn’t hurt Martsolf’s chances of being accepted as a recast that a whole lot of his storylines found him leaving the wardrobe department wearing… well… not a whole lot.</p>
<p>When Zea took a powder, <em>Passions</em> brought back Gwen’s original portrayer: Liza Huber, the daughter of Susan Lucci (Erica, <em>All My Children</em>). And as she always had, Huber gave it her all. But her legendary mom, she simply wasn’t. (Huber is now an entrepreneur and mother of four.)</p>
<p>Arguably <em>Passions</em>’ most controversial character, Vincent Clark (Phillip Jeanmarie) was Julian and Eve’s long-lost son, who turned out to be an intersex blackmailer so scarred from past abuse that he slept with his father and gave birth to his own brother!</p>
<p>Most definitely <em>not</em> a fan of Charity (Molly Stanton) and her goody-goody goodness, Tabitha moved <span style="text-decoration: line-through">heaven</span> hell and earth to tarnish her halo. The sorceress even went so far as to turn Ms. Nice Guy evil enough that she was ready to boink the glasses right off of adorkable Reese Durkee (Seth Hall). Wait, does that mean we’re <em>already</em> evil?</p>
<p>If only Timmy and Charity had been better at deciphering the fog in that crystal ball, they might have known that their future included a battle with her zombified self that — aw, no! — would leave her pint-sized admirer mortally wounded. Even seducing Reese Durkee couldn’t ease <em>that</em> pain. Though we guess it couldn’t hurt to try…</p>
<p>Irony doesn’t get much crueler than this: The same day that <a href="https://soaps.sheknows.com/soaps/news/574220/josh-ryan-evans-passions-died-same-day-timmy/" target="_blank">Evans passed away at just 20 years old</a> after undergoing a medical procedure related to a congenital heart condition, Timmy died on screen. The plan had been for the actor to continue on, playing his character as an angel; instead, alas, he became one.</p>
<p>Though Luis met the love of his life — socialite Sheridan Crane (McKenzie Westmore) — when the cop pulled her over for speeding, there was nothing fast about the progression of their relationship. They’d hit one speed bump (his loathing of her family) after another (her marriage to his brother Antonio) after another (his unstable former girlfriend, Beth Wallace) before saying, “I do.”</p>
<p><em>Passions</em> was so bonkers, it didn’t really <em>need</em> fantasy sequences — every episode was one long one! But it indulged, anyway, and to great success. A 2003 flight of fancy that found Precious, Beth (Kelli McCarty), Charlie Lapson (Jordan Baker) and Edna Wallace (Kathleen Noone) putting their own spin on “Cell Block Tango” from <em>Chicago</em> scored a Daytime Emmy.</p>
<p>When NBC cooled on <em>Passions</em> in 2007, the wackadoo soap was picked up by DirecTV, where it quickly became the highest-rated original series on The 101. Despite that achievement, the show as cancelled again and sent to the daytime graveyard… at least for a (cough) spell. All it would take to bring it back again would be a little interest, a little creativity and — but of <em>course</em> — a little magic.</p>
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