AMC Ben Jorgensen kevin ec

CBS/Courtesy of the Everett Collection

Ben Jorgensen died on October 6, 2020. 

When All My Children alum Ben Jorgensen passed away, it was a tragedy in an already tough year. The actor played gay teen Kevin Sheffield on the soap, at a time when daytime and television in general had little LGBTQ representation.

Though few details have emerged, Jorgensen’s All My Children co-star and friend Brian Gaskill shared in a Facebook post at the time that “my understanding is it was suicide. I have heard he suffered from bipolar disorder, but as I have not spoken to him in years, I do not know all the details.”

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Born in London and raised briefly in Australia, Jorgensen moved to New York City with his mother at the age of 8. He got his start in Calvin Klein’s Obsession campaign and moved on to star in The Basketball Diaries with Leonardo DiCaprio. It didn’t take long after that for him to land his Pine Valley role in 1996 before heading over to Oakdale for a stint as one of the many Chris Hugheses on As The World Turns.

During Jorgensen’s time on All My Children, the show took home GLAAD Media Awards for Outstanding Daytime Drama three years in a row — years before Eden Riegel played Bianca’s own groundbreaking coming-out story. (Check out Jorgensen in action below.)

In those early days of on-screen representation, LGBTQ characters didn’t find a lot of happiness. Kevin struggled with his sexuality, and when he came out to his family, his parents disowned him. They also blamed him for his brother ending up in jail for murder, because why not kick your son when he’s down?

Things finally seemed to be turning around for Kevin when Opal and Palmer Cortlandt took him in, only for the teen to endure a psychiatrist who tried to “cure” his homosexuality. And his attempt to force a relationship with Joe Martin’s granddaughter, Kelsey Jefferson, was, to put it mildly, a disaster. The last we saw Kevin, he was working at Holidays when the restaurant blew up on the Fourth of July.

We never learned if he survived or not.

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It was a sad conclusion to a character who had a tough time in life, right up until the end. It sounds like that’s something he may have had in common with Jorgensen himself. But the actor, also known as Ben Monk, was clearly proud of his groundbreaking role. In 2012, he told We Love Soaps that All My Children’s “writing was so good. It was like a movie going by. My coming-out scene was the best.”

Jorgensen’s last role was in 2020’s true crime mini-series on FX, A Wilderness of Error. His final episode aired less than two weeks before his death. We can only hope he’s resting easy, knowing he had the courage to tackle an important role at a time when few actors would have had been brave enough to go near it.

Though he’s now gone, Jorgensen’s legacy still remains. So, too, does All My Children’s, so to help on this painful anniversary, why not check out some rare photos from the show and remember all the good that it brought to our lives.

Video: YouTube/Steven Capsuto