John Reilly, a beloved soap-opera actor who’d spent decades in the genre, died on Saturday at the age of 84.
Reilly played Sean Donely on General Hospital for almost 30 years, starting in 1984, and starred in wacky soap opera Passions for eight years, from 2000 to 2008. He also appeared on As the World Turns, Sunset Beach and Dallas.
His daughter, Caitlin, confirmed news about his death on her Instagram account.
“The brightest light in the world has gone out. Imagine the best person in the world. Now imagine that person being your dad. I’m so grateful he was mine. I’m so grateful I got to love him. I’m so grateful I made it in time to hold him and say goodbye,” she wrote in an emotional caption.
As of this writing, the cause of Reilly’s death is unclear.
The official General Hospital Twitter account posted its condolences as well.
— General Hospital (@GeneralHospital) January 10, 2021
“The entire General Hospital family is heartbroken to hear of John Reilly’s passing. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his loved ones. Rest in peace,” it read.
Born in Chicago in 1936, Reilly started out in showbiz in the 1960s.
He began to land small TV roles on shows like Gunsmoke, but got his big break when he took over for John Colenback as Dr. Dan Stewart on soap opera As the World Turns in 1974.
He briefly dabbled in film roles but really found his calling after a recurring role on Dallas. It was then that he was cast as WSB agent Sean Donely in General Hospital, where he’d stay until 2013.
Afterwards, he appeared on Beverly Hills, 90210 as father to Kelly Taylor (Jennie Garth) for eight episodes, and had a multiyear stint on Passions. But he always made his way back to General Hospital, revisiting his Donely character in 2008 and once again in 2013.
Interestingly, Reilly was the reason actor John C. Reilly had to add the “C” to his name when he was starting out his career.
Fans and colleagues around the world were saddened by the news, and many shared their own personal condolences on social media.
John was always a favorite… back in the good ole' days of GH, the WSB was always involved in something! Sean, Robert and Frisco were stirring up terrible everywhere which way they turned! Anna, Tiffany, Felicia usually ended up saving the "BIG BOYS" from themselves.
— Lylyth Grey (@imzadi1974) January 11, 2021
Such a loss! I would love to see a tribute on screen! You have Finola, Tristan, Kristina, John, Leslie, and Jacklyn. It would be great to honor John and what Sean Donnelly meant to us #GH ❤️
— Sunshine ☀️ (@Sunshine5299) January 10, 2021
— Frank Valentini (@valentinifrank) January 10, 2021
Darling #JohnReilly 1st day at GH a tall handsome man in a leather jacket sauntered towards me & welcomed me to the show, claimed me as a fellow ‘Irish’ & assured me he’d take care of me no matter what. A kind, true friend who loved his family above all else #ripJohnReilly ❤️ pic.twitter.com/AOdNjASbbe
— Finola Hughes (@finolahughes) January 10, 2021
Reilly is survived by his wife and three daughters.
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