Two-time Emmy winner Kristoff St. John (Neil Winters) has died at the age of 52. The actor was found unresponsive in his home on February 3 and pronounced dead at the scene, according to a report by TMZ. Foul play is not suspected. An autopsy was completed on Monday, but the results have been deferred pending additional tests. [An update with the Los Angeles County Coroner's official ruling of the cause of St. John's death appears at the end of this article.]
St. John's attorney Mark Geragos confirmed the news of St. John's death and also posted the following on Twitter: "Few men had the unique strength, courage & sensitivity that @kristoffstjohn1 lived every single minute of every day. He impacted everyone he met and millions who he inspired and in turn admired him. On behalf of @MiaStJohnBoxer & @TheStJohnFamily thank you for all of your love."
Few men had the unique strength, courage & sensitivity that @kristoffstjohn1 lived every single minute of every day. He impacted everyone he met and millions who he inspired and in turn admired him. On behalf of @MiaStJohnBoxer & @TheStJohnFamily thank you for all of your love pic.twitter.com/C5ladfILSD— Mark Geragos (@markgeragos) February 4, 2019
Kristoff joined the cast of The Young and the Restless in 1991. For his work on Y&R, St. John earned nine Daytime Emmy nominations, including two wins, and won a whopping ten NAACP Image Awards.
In a joint statement, CBS Television Network and Sony Pictures Television (studio that produces Y&R) said, "The news of Kristoff St. John's passing is heartbreaking. He was a very talented actor and an even better person. For those of us who were fortunate enough to work with him on The Young and the Restless for the last 27 years, he was a beloved friend whose smile and infectious laugh made every day on set a joy and made audiences love him. On behalf of the Y&R cast and crew, CBS and Sony Pictures Television, we offer our heartfelt sympathy to his family and loved ones, especially his two daughters, Paris and Lola."
The actor's career extends well beyond the fictional city limits of Genoa City. He made his television debut at age seven in the sitcom series That's My Mama and continued to star in series such as Charlie & Company with Flip Wilson, The Bad News Bears, and The San Pedro Beach Bums. He also had the distinction of playing the title role of Young Alex Haley in Roots: The Next Generation, for which he won a Youth in Film award.
In 2014, St. John and his ex-wife, boxer Mia St. John, lost their son, Julian, when he took his own life while getting treatment at a mental health facility. Mia and Kristoff sued the facility for negligence. The suit was eventually settled. After their son's death, Kristoff and Mia founded the El Saber es Poder (Knowledge is Power) Foundation to battle mental illness.
Last year, St. John got engaged to Russian model Kseniya Mikhaleva. Mikhaleva shared a heartbroken message on Instagram following St. John's death. "How did it happen??? How??? Why did you leave so early???? and left me all alone ... you were everything to me ...."
Kristoff St. John is survived by daughters Lola and Paris.
The Young and the Restless will pay tribute to Kristoff St. John and the character of Neil Winters in a storyline that will begin airing in April. The actor's last taped episode airs on Wednesday, February 6.
As you might expect, there have been countless tributes to St. John on social media. Friends have called him "selfless," "one of the nicest guys ever," and "supportive of everything positive." We've compiled the tributes as they've come in and you can read them here.
UPDATE (March 19, 2019): The Los Angeles County Coroner's office has released a report detailing the cause of St. John's death. The report ruled St. John's death on February 3 as an "accidental death" attributed to hypertrophic heart disease, a condition that makes it difficult for the heart to pump blood. The disease often goes undiagnosed. Alcohol was also said to be a factor, but not the primary cause. A toxicology panel detected the prescription antianxiety drugs nordiazepam and Librium.
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