Actor Jeffrey Carlson is dead at 48. He was best known for his groundbreaking role as the daytime TV’s first transgender character on All My Children.
Time Out New York theater critic Adam Feldman was first to share the news on Twitter on Sunday, July 9. A cause of death was not reported.
All My Children alum Eden Riegel was among the first to pay tribute to Carlson after his death. “Devastated beyond measure to hear of the passing of the beautiful and gifted Jeffrey Carlson,” Riegel wrote via Twitter on Sunday. “I feel fortunate to have called this kind soul a friend and see his brilliant work up close. Gone far too soon — an unimaginable loss. Love you, Jeffrey. Rest friend.”
A Long Beach, California, native, Carlson studied acting at The University of California Davis, graduating in 1997, training in New York City at The Juilliard School. He appeared in several Broadway shows — including Tartuffe and Taboo — before making the jump to the screen. He had a guest spot on Law and Order: Special Victims Unit as well as a small role in the 2005 romantic comedy Hitch before he scored his role on All My Children.
Carlson initially had a one-day job on the soap opera as flamboyant British rockstar Zarf. Producers decided the theater veteran was perfect to take on the upcoming story arc for a trans character. Zarf returned to Pine Valley and developed feelings for Bianca (Riegel) and revealed that she actually identified as a woman. Zarf went on to change her name to Zoe.
“I was very moved by it,” Carlson told the Los Angeles Times of the story line in 2006. “If it creates a conversation, I think we’ve done our job.”
The story earned All My Children a GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Daily Drama in 2007. Carlson wrapped up his run on the ABC soap later that year before returning to theater work.