bb days gh yr soap stars deaths 2021
Credit: ABC, CBS/Courtesy of the Everett Collection, Aaron Montgomery, John Paschal/JPI

As the years come and go, we honor the many talented actors who have brought some of our favorite daytime characters into our homes.

It’s almost the end of another year and as in years past, daytime said goodbye to many soap opera stars who have left their mark in the industry. Before we close out the latest chapter of 2021, we wanted to take this time to reflect on a few of the actors lost during the last twelve months and hear from the castmates who not only worked with them over the years but considered them friends.

In January, General Hospital’s Finola Hughes (Anna) shared a tribute to co-star John Reilly (ex-Sean Donely) and recalled, “One of the first days I walked on the General Hospital set this tall, handsome man in a leather jacket sauntered towards me. 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. A consummate professional.” The ABC soap went on to air a special episode to honor Reilly and included his real-life daughter Caitlin during a mystery of sorts that paid homage to his Port Charles character. Reilly was 84.

June hit hard when two daytime greats passed within a few weeks of each other. All My Children vet Ray MacDonnell was 93 and will always be remembered as Pine Valley’s Dr. Joe Martin. Susan Lucci (Erica) credited him as the All My Children patriarch and thought back to days of old when he “filled our studio with warmth and professionalism.” When it came to his sense of humor, she remembered “times during scenes that I couldn’t dare make eye contact with him” and how “just a look from his eyes with that ever-present gleam would dissolve us into peals of laughter.”

More: Rare All My Children photos and bittersweet memories

The passing of General Hospital’s Stuart Damon at 84 followed and his ABC family showered the internet with many memories of Port Charles’ Dr. Alan Quartermaine. Steve Burton (Jason) said it best, “One of the greatest guys ever. I was so blessed to have this guy play my TV dad.” While he recalled the type of man Damon was, “kind, generous, giving, funny, selfless and just an awesome guy,” and how much he taught him, Burton wanted everyone to know “what a great husband and father this guy was.”

July brought another tragedy when soap alum Jay Pickett died suddenly on the set of his upcoming 2022 movie Treasure Valley. Director Travis Mills confirmed that “our leading man, writer, producer, and creator of this movie passed away suddenly while we were on location preparing to film a scene.” Though there was no official cause of death at the time, Mills went on to say, “It appears to have been a heart attack.” Pickett first hit the daytime scene in 1991 playing Dr. Chip Lakin on Days of Our Lives but is most recognized for his Port Charles role as Frank Scanlon.

The following month, the industry paid tribute to Micki Grant, who passed away at 92. She was the first Black actress in soaps to receive a contract role. Though she appeared as Arlene Goodman on Edge of Night in 1956, Grant played Peggy Harris Nolan on Another World for seven years before having smaller roles on All My Children and Guiding Light.

More: Photos, 33 soap opera stars lost in 2020

Two days later, we said goodbye to another All My Children star, Michael Nader (Dimitri Marick), who Susan Lucci recalled as “a great love of Erica Kane.” Thinking back on playing opposite of him for 10 years, she recalled “playing some of the most romantic scenes ever — dancing in palaces in Budapest, our gorgeous Greek Orthodox wedding, complete with crowns.”

And Cady McClain (Dixie) remembered Nader for being “one of the funniest human beings I ever met.”

Toward the end of the year, soap-hopper Michael Tylo passed away at 73. He held roles on such soaps as Another World, All My Children, General Hospital, The Young and the Restless, Guiding Light and The Bold and the Beautiful and was once married to fellow B&B castmate Hunter Tylo (ex-Taylor). Sadly, the couple lost their son Michael Jr. in October 2007 due to an accidental drowning at the age of 19.

Then in November, just two days before his 89th birthday, The Young and the Restless iconic actor Jerry Douglas (John Abbott) passed away after a brief illness. In October, some of his castmates got together for an early birthday celebration to honor Douglas and many took to social media following his death to share their condolences and memories of the veteran actor. Jess Walton, who played his onscreen wife Jill, expressed, “Rest in peace my dear TV husband Jerry Douglas. Thank you for the laughter all those years. Much much love to you and your beautiful family Kim and Hunter and everyone.”

Douglas’ TV daughter, Eileen Davidson (Ashley), who he referred to as ‘My Beauty’, shared, “One of a kind. I owe him so much and I will love him forever.”

And on the very last day of the month, December 31, beloved The Bold and the Beautiful and all-around “golden girl,” Betty White passed away at the age of 99. She will always be remembered by daytime fans as Stephanie Forrester’s mother Ann Douglas and her legacy as a prolific actress and funny lady will live on through her many roles. Her former castmate Jacob Young (ex-Rick) shared a photo of White on Instagram and expressed, “Thank you Betty for the laughter. You crossed a generational barrier that no one but you could cross. Rest peacefully sweet princess.”

While we’ve highlighted a small portion of those who will never be forgotten for their work on some of our favorite soaps, we invite readers to look back to the beginning of the year, through now, and take a moment to remember others who have left us, as well as their contributions to the industry, in our photo galley below. While there, fans will be able to take a deeper look into their careers and leave memories of their storylines in the comment sections of each tribute.