Gone But Never Forgotten: A Heartfelt Tribute to the Soap Stars We Lost in 2021
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.”
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.
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.
<p>Longtime <em>General Hospital</em> actor <a href="https://soaps.sheknows.com/general-hospital/news/588852/general-hospital-john-reilly-sean-donely-dead/" target="_blank">John Reilly passed away at 84</a> on January 9, 2021. Fans will never forget Port Charles’ Sean Donely, as well as the various other daytime characters he played. Like many others, fellow <em>General Hospital</em> actress <a href="https://soaps.sheknows.com/soaps/news/588922/john-reilly-dead-general-hospital-costars-tributes/" target="_blank">Finola Hughes recalled her dear friend</a>, “Darling John Reilly… One of the first days I walked on the 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.” </p>
<p>Soap opera vet <a href="https://soaps.sheknows.com/soaps/news/589384/peter-mark-richman-soap-star-dynasty-dead-tribute/" target="_blank">Peter Mark Richman passed away</a> at the age of 93 on January 14, 2021. He created the role of C.C. Capwell on <em>Santa Barbara</em> and appeared in the primetime soapy hit <em>Dynasty</em>, as well as on the Saturday morning children shows <em>Electra Woman</em> and <em>Dyna Girl</em>. </p>
<p>Soap alum <a href="https://soaps.sheknows.com/soaps/news/592147/general-hospital-christopher-pennock-soap-star-dead-76/" target="_blank">Christopher Pennock passed away</a> on February 12, 2021. The actor appeared on <em>Days of Our Lives, General Hospital, The Young and the Restless</em> and <em>Guiding Light</em>. </p>
<p><em>Guiding Light</em> alum <a href="https://soaps.sheknows.com/soaps/news/593534/guiding-light-dynasty-geoffrey-scott-dead-79/" target="_blank">Geoffrey Scott passed away</a> on February 23, 2021 at the age of 79. He also appeared on <em>General Hospital</em> and played Krystle Carrington’s first husband Mark Jennings on <em>Dynasty</em> — not to mention appeared in numerous popular commercials. Remember the Marlboro man?</p>
<p><em>Guiding Light</em> and <em>All My Children</em> alum <a href="https://soaps.sheknows.com/soaps/news/593608/soap-star-dead-gil-rogers-all-my-children-guiding-light/" target="_blank">Gil Rogers passed away</a> on March 2, 2021 at 87. The actor will always be remembered by soap fans for playing one of daytime’s most notorious villains.</p>
<p>Legendary actress <a href="https://soaps.sheknows.com/soaps/news/595651/jessica-walter-dead-at-80-arrested-development-soap-actress/" target="_blank">Jessica Walter passed away</a> on March 24, 2021. To daytime fans, she’ll be remembered for playing Eleanor Armitage on <em>One Life to Live</em>, but to others as the matriarch on <em>Arrested Development</em> — not to mention numerous other credits.</p>
<p>Actor <a href="https://soaps.sheknows.com/soaps/news/595774/soap-opera-star-dead-robert-rodan-dark-shadows-adam/" target="_blank">Robert Rodan passed away</a> on March 25, 2021 at the age of 83. He’s known for playing Adam, Frankenstein’s monster stand-in, on <em>Dark Shadows</em>.</p>
<p><em>General Hospital</em> alum Billie Hayes (ex-Agent Brighton O’Reilly) passed away at 96 of natural causes on Thursday, April 29. Former co-star Tristan Rogers (Robert) recalled their “magical relationship” <a href="https://soaps.sheknows.com/general-hospital/news/599133/general-hospital-tristan-rogers-mourns-co-star-billie-hayes-dead-96/" target="_blank">in a remembrance post</a>. </p>
<p>Soap alum <a href="https://soaps.sheknows.com/soaps/news/599495/soap-opera-star-dies-dead-tawny-kitaen-whitesnake-video/" target="_blank">Tawny Kitaen passed away</a> on May 7, 2021. She will always be remembered for her iconic 1980s Whitesnake videos, as well as the 1984 film <em>Bachelor Party</em>.</p>
<p>Soap alum <a href="https://soaps.sheknows.com/soaps/news/601277/soap-star-dead-robert-hogan-another-world-general-hospital/" target="_blank">Robert J. Hogan passed away</a> on May 27, 2021. He was known for roles on <em>Another World, General Hospital</em> and other daytime and primetime hits.</p>
<p>John Gabriel <a href="https://soaps.sheknows.com/soaps/news/602218/soap-star-john-gabriel-dead-90-ryans-hope-seneca-beaulac/" target="_blank">passed away on June 13, 2021</a>. He was best known for his role as Dr. Seneca Beaulac on <em>Ryan’s Hope</em> and appeared on various other soap operas.</p>
<p><em>All My Children’s</em> <a href="https://soaps.sheknows.com/soaps/news/603275/all-my-children-ray-macdonnell-dead-joe-martin-soap-star/" target="_blank">Ray MacDonnell passed away</a> from natural causes on June 10, 2021. The daytime vet was best known for playing the role of Pine Valley’s Dr. Joe Martin.</p>
<p><em>General Hospital</em> favorite <a href="https://soaps.sheknows.com/general-hospital/news/603395/general-hospital-stuart-damon-alan-quartermaine-dead-84/" target="_blank">Stuart Damon passed away</a> at 84 due following a struggle with renal failure. The actor was best known for playing Port Charles’ Dr. Alan Quartermaine.</p>
<p><em>Days of Our Lives</em> and <em>Another World</em> alum <a href="https://soaps.sheknows.com/days-of-our-lives/news/603631/days-of-our-lives-another-world-alum-philece-sampler-dead/" target="_blank">Philece Sampler died in July 2021</a>. She played the daughter of Salem’s Stefano DiMera and had numerous credits throughout the years.</p>
<p><em>General Hospital</em> alum <a href="https://soaps.sheknows.com/general-hospital/news/615270/general-hospital-bergen-williams-dead-big-alice/" target="_blank">Bergen Williams passed away</a> on July 20, 2021. She was 62 and will always be remembered for playing Port Charles’ Alice Gunderson.</p>
<p>Soap vet <a href="https://soaps.sheknows.com/general-hospital/news/605869/port-charles-actor-jay-pickett-frank-dead-while-filming-movie/" target="_blank">Jay Pickett passed away on July 30</a> while on the set of his new movie. The actor is best known for his <em>Port Charles</em> and <em>Days of Our Lives’</em> roles. </p>
<p><em>Another World’s</em> <a href="https://soaps.sheknows.com/soaps/news/607705/soap-star-dead-micki-grant-another-world-first-black-contract-actress/" target="_blank">Micki Grant passed away</a> on August 21, 2021 at the age of 92. She was the first Black actress who held a contract soap role.</p>
<p><em>Dynasty</em> and <em>All My Children</em> actor <a href="https://soaps.sheknows.com/soaps/news/607749/all-my-children-dynasty-soap-star-michael-nader-dead/" target="_blank">Michael Nader passed away</a> on August 23, 2021 from cancer. He was best known for playing Erica Kane’s husband, Dimitri, on the ABC soap. </p>
<p>In September, the soap vet’s colleague at the University of Nevada, where he worked as a film professor, disclosed that he had <a href="https://soaps.sheknows.com/soaps/news/610630/soap-star-michael-tylo-dead-73-bold-beautiful-general-hospital/" target="_blank">passed away at 73</a>. Though he’d appeared on everything from <em>Another World</em> to <em>The Bold and the Beautiful</em>, he is most vividly remembered as Quint Chamberlain on <em>Guiding Light</em> and twins Blade and Rick on <em>The Young and the Restless.</em></p>
<p><em>The Young and the Restless</em> veteran actor <a href="https://soaps.sheknows.com/the-young-and-the-restless/news/614674/young-restless-jerry-douglas-dead-died-john-abbott/" target="_blank">Jerry Douglas passed away</a> on November 9, 2021 at the age of 88. He will always be remembered for playing Genoa City’s John Abbott, the patriarch of one of the CBS soap’s legendary families.</p>
<p>Soap actress <a href="https://soaps.sheknows.com/soaps/news/616204/soap-star-dead-as-the-world-turns-lisa-brown-martha-byrne-tribute/" target="_blank">Lisa Brown passed away</a> on Novemver 24, 2021 at 67. She was best known for playing Nola Reardon on <em>Guiding Light </em>and Iva Snyder on <em>As the World Turns.</em></p>
<p>Former soap actress Arlene Dahl passed away on November 29 at the age of 96. Daytime fans may recall her role as Lucinda Schenck on <em>One Life to Live</em>, as well as Lady Lucille on <em>All My Children</em>.</p>
<p>Eddie Mekka, best known for playing Carmine “The Big Ragoo” Ragusa on <em>Laverne & Shirley</em> <a href="https://soaps.sheknows.com/the-bold-and-the-beautiful/news/616684/soap-laverne-shirley-eddie-mekka-dead/" target="_blank">passed away at the age of 69</a> on November 27, 2021. Daytime fans may remember him from his roles on <em>Bold & Beautiful, Guiding Light, Sunset Beach</em> and <em>Young & Restless</em>. </p>
<p>Actress <a href="https://soaps.sheknows.com/days-of-our-lives/news/617440/days-of-our-lives-star-dead-rhonda-stubbins-white-lady-vi/" target="_blank">Rhonda Stubbins White passed away</a> on December 13, 2021 at the age of 60. She was known to daytime fans as Lady Vi on <em>Days of Our Lives</em>. </p>
<p><em>The Bold and the Beautiful</em> alum <a href="https://soaps.sheknows.com/the-bold-and-the-beautiful/news/604911/betty-white-dead-obituary-bold-beautiful-ann-douglas/" target="_blank">Betty White passed away</a> at the age of 99 on Friday, December 31, 2021. She’ll be remembered for numerous roles including the CBS soap’s Ann Douglas and Rose on <em>The Golden Girls</em>.</p>
Previous in News9-1-1: Lone Star Returns With a Season 3 ‘Thrill Ride’ That Has Us More Than a Little Worried About Austin’s First Responders
Next in NewsYour Ultimate 2021 Recap: A Photo-Filled Look Back at Everything That Happened On All Four Shows — Yes, Everything! (OK, Maybe Not *Everything*)