"Young and Restless" actor Kristoff St. John's death at the age of 52 has sent shockwaves through the tight-knit soap opera community as fans mourned the loss of a "phenomenal" actor who many remembered as one of their favorite "TV dads."
The actor, who played the popular Neil Winters on the long-running soap since 1991, died on Sunday, Fox News confirmed. St. John's acting career kickstarted at the young age of 8. He's made appearances on dozens of TV shows and movies since then but his role on the CBS soap was his longest yet, according to IMDB.
The soap star suffered a "breaking point" in 2017, three years after his 24-year-old son, Julian, died in a California mental health care facility, Entertainment Tonight reported at the time. The death was reported as a suicide and led St. John and his ex-wife Mia to file a wrongful death lawsuit, which was later settled out of court.
"No parent should ever have to bury their child, and for those who do, it is a nightmare that haunts you forever. The death of our beloved son Julian, has taken a toll on both of us. He is an actor and while he may appear whole on the outside, his heart is broken. As a society we need to start taking mental health seriously and realize that no one is immune," Mia told ET, adding that reports John attempted suicide on the anniversary of his son's death were inaccurate.
Journalist Jemele Hill admitted "Young and the Restless" had been her "guilty pleasure" for years.
"This is just heartbreaking. Kristoff St. John’s character was so revolutionary because he & @victoriarowell represented the only black family on Y&R, the no. 1 soap. Kristoff is appreciated and will be sorely missed," she wrote on Twitter.
Actor Stan Shaw, who previously worked closely with John, said the news "broke his heart."
"Kristoff played my Grandson on Roots2, I love this kid. He was a wonder kid, a great actor and an awesome man. I'd spoken with him recently. I'm just devastated! #RIP Beautiful soul, miss you!" Shaw wrote.
Actress and comedian Yvette Nicole Brown also said she was devastated by the news.
"No!!! This news has truly broken my heart. Kristoff was pure & so kind. I will never forget how wonderful he was to me and everyone else he came into contact with. He was just a good, good man," Brown tweeted with a link to the news.
Actress Marsha Warfield simply tweeted "oh, no..." after learning about St. John's death.
Charles Divins, a morning anchor and actor who spent 5 years as Chad Harris on the NBC drama "Passions," thanked the actor for being a role model.
"Sad news about a man I was lucky to know and who handed down advice that has guided me to this day. RIP," Divins tweeted.
Comedian Rickey Smiley called John a "staple in daytime TV stories."
"Sad to hear about Kristoff St. John ... RIP, man," he tweeted.
Loyal viewers also took the opportunity Monday to honor St. John for his life and work in the industry.