Nathaniel Marston of OLTL
Credit: Lisa Rose/JPI

Like the characters he played, the actor’s life was tragically cut short.

It was on November 11, 2015, that the soap community was shocked to learn that One Life to Live star Nathaniel Marston had passed away following an automobile accident. Only 40 years old at the time of his death, we would eventually learn that he’d been well on the way to reclaiming a career which had been derailed by, among other things, his struggle with addiction.

Marston was born on July 9, 1975, in Torrington, Connecticut. Growing up he lived with his mother Elizabeth Jackson, herself an aspiring actress. During his early years, he would move frequently, from Kauai, Hawaii to San Diego, California then to Los Angeles and New York. After graduating from Beverly Hills High School, he was — in a twist worthy of a Hollywood film — discovered by a William Morris talent agent while working at a Beverly Hills bakery.

The young actor’s career began in commercials, but he was quickly cast as Rosario Cappamezza in the 1996 Angelina Jolie film Love Is All There Is, which was a modern retelling of Romeo and Juliette. Marston played the character Romeo to Jolie’s Juliette, known as Gina Malacici. Their families were rivals in the restaurant and catering businesses.

Nathaniel Marston Love is All There Is

He followed up with a role in the cult classic horror film The Craft, in which alter ego Trey found himself getting involved with a coven of teenage witches. That same year, he appeared in the short-lived 1996 primetime show Matt Waters, playing a student being taught by Montel Williams’ inner-city educator.  The show, a midseason replacement, failed to catch on and was canceled after six episodes. Nathaniel Marston in Matt Waters

Daytime audiences would get their first glimpse of the actor’s talents when he was cast as Eddie Silva on the CBS soap opera As the World Turns in 1998. Left to his own devices after his mother was killed during a drug deal gone wrong, Eddie was taken in by Margo Hughes — the very same police officer who’d killed his mother. The role earned Marston a nomination for Soap Opera Digest’s Outstanding Male Newcomer award and, perhaps more importantly, a legion of fans who were sorry to see him exit Oakdale in 2000.

But  it was upon joining One Life to Live in 2001 that Marston truly connected with his audience as Al Holden, son of James DePaiva’s Max. Al’s sweet, unlikely romance with Kathy Brier’s Marcie would capture the heart of viewers. After rescuing Marcie from a dumpster in 2003, Al fell ill and would soon die of complications from a liver transplant. Following fan outcry, Marston was given a second role on the same show, this time as Michael McBain, brother of Michael Easton’s John. In order to recreate the popular pairing Marston and Brier had created, it was explained that Al’s soul had leapt into Michael’s body.

Nathaniel Marston and Kathy Brier

In March of 2006, Marston would marry Rita Bias. They resided in New York City for most of their marriage, where he indulged in hobbies such as restoring classic cars, weight training and honing his skills as an amateur boxer. In his spare time, he volunteered with the charities The Gabriel Project, which offers aid to pregnant women in crisis, and the Lower Eastside Service Center, which focuses on helping people battling opioid addiction.

But trouble was brewing just beneath the surface. According to a report from The Sun Chronicle, it was in 2007 that the actor landed in trouble following a brawl in New York City. Marston was accused of attacking three men and kicking at police officers during an incident at a Manhattan gas station. He was arrested and charged with four counts of second-degree assault, menacing, reckless endangerment, and resisting arrest. Shortly after the arrest his role on One Life to Live was recast with Chris Stack. Ultimately, Marston struck a plea deal which allowed him to take part in anger-management sessions rather than spend time behind bars or on probation.

Marston’s last film, Walk a Mile in My Pradas, was released in 2011. He starred as Tony, a homophobic construction worker who winds up swapping personalities with a gay co-worker thanks to a magical Christmas ornament.

Nathaniel Marston Pradas Movie

By 2012, Marston was focusing on his sobriety while working on his mother’s ranch in Gerlach, Nevada. He was also active in the small community. One Christmas he cooked and delivered 100 dinners and handmade cards to everyone in town.Sadly, while traveling to help out a friend in Nevada he was involved in the accident which would ultimately lead to his death.

According to a CNN report, police suspected that the October 30 accident took place after Marston  fell asleep at the wheel, resulting in his pickup truck careening off the road and flipping several times. The actor, who was not wearing his seatbelt, was thrown from the vehicle through the windshield. Several vertebrae in his neck and back were crushed. After he underwent surgery, fans were kept updated by the Facebook posts his mother gave regarding his condition. Eventually, his injuries proved impossible to overcome.

Marston’s obituary, taken in part from a Facebook post from his mother, stated “My beloved and cherished son, Nathaniel Marston, who was putting up the good fight until last night, was not able to continue due to the traumatic and devastating nature of his injuries. Nathaniel passed away peacefully as I held him in my arms. God ended Nathaniel’s pain and suffering at 3:15 today PST in Reno, Nevada.” She went on to share, “Had Nathaniel lived he would have required a ventilator and would never have been able to utter one more word and would have been sentenced to life as a quadriplegic. A condition that Nate would have never have been able to tolerate. By God’s love and mercy Nathaniel was spared this living hell.”

Jackson would later tell The Sun Chronicle that before his death, her son had been turning his life around. “He was going to go back to Los Angeles,” she reported. “He’d gotten his sobriety back.” To honor him, three separate memorial services were held for family, friends, and fans in New York City; Kauai, Hawaii and Gerlach, Nevada. His ashes were scattered in Hawaii. Jackson told People that doctors had told her Marston’s heart was reversed, resting on the right side of his body because of a rare condition called situs inversus. “So when he was hugging you, it was directly heart-to-heart,” she explained. “That’s why his hugs were so special.” At his memorial, former One Life to Live cast member Brier sang “Hallelujah,” his favorite song. Producer Vincent De Paul gave a remembrance speech, having first met Marston on the set of As the World Turns.

Shortly after his death, several of his friends and co-stars tweeted their condolences, including Tika Sumpter, who played Layla Williamson on One Life to Live.

Michelle Stafford, who has appeared on both General Hospital and The Young and the Restless also remarked on the sad event.

Sean Ringgold, who played bodyguard Shaun Evans on One Life to Live, paid homage to his brother.

Kassie DePaiva, the spouse of James, also posted, “There are no words” and shared a photo of herself with Marston. DePaiva played Blair Cramer on the soap.

Easton, who played Marston’s on-screen brother, also shared a photo of them together saying, “Forever in our hearts.”

Kristen Alderson, who was Starr Manning on One Life to Live, was another to share her condolences and a photo with the late star.

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