People across the nation are mourning the death of Christopher Lawford (ex-Charlie Brent, All My Children). The actor, who was born into Hollywood nobility and later became a public health advocate and best-selling author, died on Tuesday in Vancouver, British Columbia. He was 63.
The news was initially reported on Twitter by his cousin, human-rights activist Kerry Kennedy, a daughter of Robert F. Kennedy. "We mourn the loss of my cousin Christopher Lawford, Rest in Peace," Kennedy wrote without going into any additional detail.
We mourn the loss of my cousin Christopher Lawford, Rest in Peace.- Kerry Kennedy (@KerryKennedyRFK) September 5, 2018
Pictured here with our family at the 2004 Democratic Convention and with his wonderful son, David. pic.twitter.com/GLlCvN7xkv
Lawford's death was later confirmed by Max Burns, a spokesman for the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights advocacy group in Washington, which Kerry Kennedy leads.
Another cousin, former U.S. Representative Patrick Kennedy, told the Associated Press that Lawford died of a heart attack, though an official cause of death has yet to be released. According to TMZ, Lawford suffered a medical emergency at a yoga studio on Tuesday night and later died. An autopsy is being performed to determine the exact cause of death.
"The recovery community lost a founding father today," Kennedy wrote, referring to Lawford's openness about battling drug addiction. "My cousin, Chris Lawford, passed away from a heart attack yesterday evening. To the world he was an author, actor, & activist, but to the recovery community he was a pioneer -- living proof that long-term recovery was possible."
The recovery community lost a founding father today. My cousin, Chris Lawford, passed away from a heart attack yesterday evening. To the world he was an author, actor, & activist, but to the recovery community he was a pioneer – living proof that long-term recovery was possible. pic.twitter.com/NS9TLZgRlT— Patrick J. Kennedy (@PJK4brainhealth) September 5, 2018
In addition to being President John F. Kennedy's nephew, Lawford was known for his many acting credits -- two of which were in daytime. The California native played the role of AMC's Philip "Charlie" Brent from 1992 to 1995 and General Hospital's Senator Jordan in 2003. Lawford's former AMC costar Susan Lucci (Erica Kane) took to Instagram to remember her castmate as "great to work with -- always prepared and always with a smile and an ease about him" and to offer her condolences to Lawford's family.
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Such very sad news that wonderful Chris Lawford has passed away. Chris was so great to work with—always prepared and always with a smile and an ease about him. He was warm and charming whether on set at AMC—or working hard for his charity. My deepest sympathy to his family. RIP, Chris ??????
Lawford was the first child of Patricia Kennedy Lawford, sister to JFK, and Peter Lawford, the British-born actor and member of Frank Sinatra's 1960s-era "Rat Pack" gang of entertainer pals. His résumé is quite long and includes several non-daytime credits in addition to his roles on AMC and GH. His other credits include The O.C., Frasier, Chicago Hope, and Midnight Caller. He was also a correspondent on Extra.
However, Lawford kept busy with non-acting projects, as well. Armed with a J.D. from Boston College Law School and a master's certificate from Harvard University (where he was also a lecturer in psychiatry), Lawford was active in the Democratic National Committee and worked for his uncle, Senator Ted Kennedy. He worked with organizations like Special Olympics and the Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University.
He also wrote the New York Times bestseller Symptoms of Withdrawal after going public about his battles with alcohol, opioids, and heroin addiction as well as the book Moments of Clarity: Voices from the Front Lines of Addiction and Recovery, a collection of essays by various celebrities about their struggles with substance abuse.
Lawford was inspired to kick his drug habit after his cousin David, son of Robert F. Kennedy, died of a drug overdose. Later, Lawford helped set up a clinic to treat opioid dependency in Boston.
Lawford is survived by his wife, Mercedes Miller, and three children.
Would you like to leave your condolences for Lawford and his family? What are your favorite memories from his time as AMC's Charlie or GH's Senator Jordan? We want to hear from you -- and there are many ways you can share your thoughts.