Jeffrey Carlson, who broke boundaries with his portrayal of transgender character Zoe on All My Children, has died. He was 48.
Actress Susan Hart from the Chicago Shakespeare Theater on Friday announced Carlson’s death on FacebookHe wrote: “Good night my sweet, sweet, sweet prince among men. There are no words for our despair at losing you Jeffrey Carlson,” Hart wrote. “For those of you who don’t know, I am very sorry to report that Jeffrey passed away yesterday.
“I respected his family’s privacy by not sharing the news sooner… also couldn’t breathe or function… still can’t… Love… just devastated.”
The Cook County Coroner’s Office confirmed Carlson’s death to the Times, adding that the cause and manner of death have not yet been determined.
Jeffrey’s sister, Elizabeth Carlson Gingras, shared a statement with the Times and wrote: “My beautiful, brilliant and EXTREMELY talented brother Jeffrey Carlson has gone to heaven to join our brother Gregory Carlson. I can’t imagine why this happened. What I do know is that I will always cherish our laughter and the deep love we have for one another. He made such a big impression on so many people that it’s so hard to find the words to express how special he was. I have so much to say… but my heart is not able to give Jeffrey the words he deserves. I love you so much my beautiful brother.”
Time Out New York Theater Editor Adam Feldman wrote that, Carlson was a “Broadway star of raw nerves” and “a powerful actor and a painful loss”. Feldman added that he first saw Carlson in Lee Blessing’s Thief River when the actor was still studying drama at the Juilliard School. “It was clear he was something special.”
The ‘All My Children’ star, best known for his groundbreaking portrayal of English rock star Zarf, who joined Zoe after coming out transgender, starred in 59 episodes of the soap opera from 2006-2007. Zoe was the first trans woman to come out on daytime television.
“I am devastated beyond measure to learn of the passing of the beautiful and talented Jeffrey Carlson.” Eden Riegel, who played Bianca on All My Children, wrote on Twitter. “I feel fortunate to have called this kind soul a friend and to see his brilliant work up close. Gone way too soon – an unimaginable loss. i love you jeffrey Rest, friend.”
Carlson was born on June 23, 1975 in Long Beach. His mother chose the name Jeffrey – seemingly in an act of uncanny kismets – because she loved the character “All My Children” Jeff Martin.
Carlson attended UC Davis with plans to become a veterinarian, but caught acting fever. He switched majors and after graduating in 1997 moved to New York City to train at the Juilliard School, where his journey was documented on the PBS series American Masters as part of a feature about the performing arts school. He graduated from Juilliard’s acting department in 2001 and followed his heart to Broadway.
In 2002, Carlson made his Broadway debut in Edward Albee’s The Goat or Who is Sylvia? He also had a starring role in a Broadway production of Molière’s Tartuffe. His portrayal of ’80s Britpop star Marilyn in Broadway musical “Taboo” received a Drama Desk nomination.
Carlson was best known for his Shakespeare performances. He acted in productions such as “Lorenzaccio” and “Hamlet” at the Shakespeare Theater Company in Washington, DC. His roles at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater include Henry IV Parts 1 and 2 and Christopher Marlowe’s Edward II.
In addition to his numerous stage roles, Carlson has appeared on the big screen in Happy End (2003), Hitch (2005), Backseat (2005) and The Killing Floor (2007) and on the small screen in Plainsong. (2004) and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (2004).
In a Facebook post by the Shakespeare Theater Company reminiscent of Carlson, writing that the company was “sad to learn of the recent death of Jeffrey Carlson.” Jeffrey delivered beautifully and differentiated throughout a career that took him from television and film to Broadway and, luckily for us, STC performances. His memorable performances include Lorenzaccio (2005), Hamlet (2007 and Free For All 2008) and Romeo and Juliet (2016 and Free For All 2017). We send our love to Jeffrey’s friends, family and colleagues, those who knew and loved him the most.”
They ended their contribution with a quote from Hamlet: “Good night, sweet prince, and may the angelic hosts sing you to your rest.”