Actor Jeffrey Carlson, known for his ground-breaking role as a transgender character named Zoe Luper on All My Children, has passed away at the age of 48.
Jeffrey Carlson: Paving His Own Path
Carlson first made an appearance in Pine Valley as Internationally famous English rock star Zarf Luper on August 23, 2006. Created by head writer Megan MacTavish, the character was depicted as a male-to-female transition who came out as a woman named Zoe after falling for legacy character, Bianca Montgomery (Eden Riegel), Erica Kane’s daughter. (Bianca came out as a lesbian on the show in December of 2000.) The show was honored with a GLAAD Media Award in 2007 for the storyline with Zarf/Zoe.
The first transgender character in daytime serials was notably Azure C. in ABC’s The City, played by actress Carlotta Chang. She was a model whose fiancé was horrified to find out she was once a man. The difference between the two characters is that Carlson’s Zoe was linked with a lead character and was going through the transition at the time.
Riegel was quick to share her grief over the loss of her friend and co-star on Twitter, “Devastated beyond measure to hear of the passing of the beautiful and gifted Jeffrey Carlson. 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.”
Born on June 23, 1975, in Long Beach, California, Carlson attended Saint John Bosco High School in Bellflower, California. His mother named him Jeffrey, ironically, because of her love of the character of Jeff Martin on her favorite soap opera – All My Children. He went on to earn a B.A. at the University of California Davis and then continued his love of theater at New York City’s Juilliard School as one of the Drama Division’s Group 30 from 1997 – 2001.
In 2002, the actor made his Broadway debut in The Goat, or Who is Sylvia? from playwright Edward Albee. Carlson appeared in the Broadway revival of Tartuffe in 2003 and opposite Oscar-winning actress Hilary Swank in The Miracle Worker. He continued his Broadway reign in the short-lived Boy George musical Taboo in 2003 and 2004, for which he was nominated for a Drama Desk Award as Outstanding Featured Actor for his role as Marilyn.
The Shakespeare Theatre Company posted their condolences on their Facebook page, “STC is saddened to learn of the recent passing of Jeffrey Carlson. Jeffrey gave beautiful and nuanced performances during his career which took him from television and film to Broadway and, fortunately for us, to STC. His memorable performances include Lorenzaccio (2005), Hamlet (2007, and 2008’s Free For All), and Romeo and Juliet (2016), and 2017’s Free For All. We send our love to Jeffrey’s friends, family, and colleagues, those who knew and loved him dearest. ‘Good night, sweet prince, and may flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.’ Hamlet, Act 5, scene 2”
The diverse actor appeared in films such as Happy End, Plainsong, Hitch, Backseat, and The Killing Floor. He also made an appearance in primetime on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit as Justin Wexler in 2004.
At press time, a cause of death for Carlson had not been given in any of the reports on his passing. Soap Hub sends its sincere condolences to Jeffrey Carlson’s family, friends, co-workers, and fans during this difficult time.