michael louden
Credit: CBS screenshot

When Michael Louden passed away on September 4, 2004, he had his whole life ahead of him.

Some lights burn so brightly, it’s hard to imagine them ever being snuffed out. Take, for example, Michael Louden, the Massachusetts native who made a lasting impression on daytime when As the World Turns cast him in 1988 as Duke Kramer, an angry young man who turned out to be the son of… well, angry older man John Dixon.

When the Juilliard grad was on screen, you couldn’t look away. There was an intensity about him, a presence that commanded your attention. And not just any soap newcomer could hold their own opposite the formidable Larry Bryggman, who played Daddy Dearest. (Louden had previously only been a day player on Another World.)

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After the promising newcomer wrapped his gig on As the World Turns — which included an on-screen romance with future primetime mainstay Ming-Na Wen as Lien Hughes — his career focus turned to the theater, where he appeared in productions of Measure for Measure, Timon of Athens and Harold Pinter’s The Homecoming.

But we always assumed — maybe “hoped” is the better word? — that the live wire would return to daytime once again. Alas, aside from a bit part on One Life to Live, it wasn’t to be. When he died of a brain aneurysm on September 4, 2004, he was only 40 years old.

On this somber occasion, raise your spirits if you can by taking a look back at As the World Turns’ epic run on CBS via the below photo gallery.