The outstanding stage performer and former cast member of the soap opera All My Children, Jeffrey Carlson, has died at the age of 48.
The heartbreaking news was originally announced on Twitter by Time Out New York theater editor Adam Feldman, who wrote, "RIP Jeffrey Carlson, 48, exposed-nerve star of Broadway (Billy in The Goat, Marilyn in Taboo) and TV (the revolutionary trans role Zoe on All My Children). A significant actor and a devastating loss.
On its Facebook page, the Shakespeare Theatre Company also posted a memorial to the late actor, stating, "STC is heartbroken to learn of the untimely loss of Jeffrey Carlson. Jeffrey provided stunning and subtle performances throughout his career, which saw him go from television and cinema to Broadway and, thankfully for us, STC.The people who knew and loved Jeffrey best—his friends, family, and coworkers—receive our heartfelt condolences.
Carlson performed in several Shakespeare Theatre Company plays, including as Lorenzaccio (2005), Hamlet (2007), Romeo and Juliet (2016), and Free For All in both 2008 and 2017.
There were no immediate announcements on his cause of death, survivors, or a memorial service.
The author Mark Harris tweeted, "This is truly sad," after learning of Carlson's demise. Anyone who had the good fortune to see Jeffrey Carlson in the 2000s in New York City theater or in the subsequent regional productions understood they were watching not only a superb actor, but an honest and unique one. RIP."
After Carlson passed away, many friends and admirers expressed their condolences and paid tribute to him online, showing that he had a profound impact on many people.
Although Carlson had a successful acting career, his portrayal of Zoe in All My Children is perhaps the one for which he is most remembered. In 2006, he made his television debut as the character Zarf. The protagonist reveals that they are transgender and adopts the name Zoe as their new name during the course of the plot.
Zoe was probably the first out transgender lady and the first representation of a male-to-female transition, even if it's not known if she was the first transgender character on daytime television.
When asked about the pressure he felt to play Zoe, Carlson said in an interview with Today.com that was conducted when he was on All My Children: "I worry about missing anything, but I assume that would be the same with any character. I want All My Children viewers to follow. The purpose is not to startle. It is but one more individual whose life is being chronicled in Pine Valley.
Carlson contributed to All My Children and also had appearances in the movies Hitch, Backseat, and The Killing Floor. After leaving the soap opera, he concentrated on stage and theatrical performances.