News of The Young and the Restless star Kristoff St. John’s untimely death rocked the soap opera world today, especially those actors and actresses who work or have worked at CBS Daytime. Perhaps the hardest hit by the heartbreaking news of the actor’s passing were those who worked most closely with him as Neil Winters’ family on the long-running daytime drama.
In 1991, St. John originated the role of Neil Winters, according to an Inquisitr report. Throughout the day as tributes to the actor poured out across social media, a portrait of a fun-loving man with a heart of gold who never hesitated to help out his co-stars quickly emerged. Those who knew him or followed him for a while on social media often saw that side of St. John.
The Winters family on Y&R includes Neil, who served at the family’s patriarch. Also in the first generation is Neil’s brother Malcolm Winters, portrayed by Shemar Moore from 1994–2005, 2014 and Darius McCrary from 2009-2011. Drucilla Winters, portrayed by Victoria Rowell from 1990 to 2000 and again from 2002-2007, is Neil’s late wife. Dru died after falling over a cliff with Sharon (Sharon Case).
The second generation of the family includes Lily Winters Ashby (Christel Khalil) who is Neil’s legal daughter, but the biological daughter of Dru and Malcolm. Lily is married to Cane Ashby (Daniel Goddard), and they have twins who make up the family’s third generation — Charlie (Noah Alexander Gerry) and Mattie (Lexie Stevenson). Rounding out the patriarch’s children are Devon Hamilton (Bryton James), Neil’s adopted son, and Moses Winters (Dax Randall), who is Neil’s son with Sofia Dupre (Julia Pace Mitchell).
Hilary Curtis (Mishael Morgan) first married Neil and then later his son Devon. On the show, she died last year when Morgan exited.
Christel Khalil shared a picture of herself with St. John along with James and Goddard. The foursome appeared to have a great time on the set of the show, which is how many images of the late actor and his co-stars look. She wrote a heartfelt message expressing her heartbreak over the immeasurable loss of such a good soul. For 17 years, she worked with St. John as his daughter on the show, and she said that he held the place of a father in her heart.
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I’ve been thinking for awhile what to say. How to express my love and gratitude for Kristoff in my life. I don’t know if I can ever fully express how my heart feels. I’m so heartbroken. I’m mad, sad, confused...but I understand. I’m thankful you’re not in pain anymore, such a deep pain that no one could understand. No parent should have to bury their child, I’m sorry you had to. I’m sorry you’ve been hurting so much... You were one of a kind. I’ll never forget you were the first person who took me under your wing when I joined Y&R. You were the one who when I had my screen test, you helped me, made me feel connected and comfortable. I know part of the reason why I even got a role that changed my life forever is because of you. Your goofiness, openness, and genuine love and care you showed for other people was never overlooked. You treated me like your real daughter over the past 17 years. Between our deep conversations about religion to your goofy dad jokes, you’ve always had a special place in my heart. A place where a father should have been...I’m grateful I got to know you and share some of my most important moments of life with you. You will never be forgotten. I love you. I love you...????
Goddard, who’s character Cane most recently received a tongue lashing from Neil on the show over mistreating Lily, also shared an incredibly found memory of St. John on Instagram that seemed to sum up their working relationship. The pair loved to make each other laugh, and Goddard described their time together as filled with “ridiculousness, pranks and practical jokes.” Bryton James filmed the clip.
WARNING, the clip below contains language that is not safe for work.
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Kristoff you were a beautiful sweet sensitive soul full of love, compassion and kindness... but more than that you were my brother. I will never forget you and will never be the same now that you are gone... we spent our time together filled with ridiculousness, pranks and practical jokes because there were few things that we liked more than to make each other laugh. You remember this one? You had been putting vaseline on my dressing room door handle and toilet seat for days on end, and... I finally got you back by filling your new sneakers with hair conditioner! And of course Bryton was there to help capture the moment! I miss you mate. I will always miss you. You were so loved. Rest my friend. You are now at peace. ????
Mishael Morgan expressed her deep sense of loss on Instagram, and she credited both St. John as well as his Y&R character Neil for helping her become the woman she is today.
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Oh the words. I don’t even know where to begin. Well, like many, I have know Neil Winters for most of my childhood. But when I grew up, I had the honour of meeting & working with Kristoff St. John. “July 15th!”, was the very first thing he said to me, because he found out that we shared a birthday. That was Kristoff, he always found a way to connect with you. He took me under his wing and instantly made me feel at home. In many ways, I am who I am, because of Neil and Kristoff. You inspired me, as a child and guided me, as a woman and I am forever grateful to have known you. You were bright and funny and truly, one of a kind. I will miss that infectious smile, that open heart and that beautiful spirt. Sending all of my love to your girls and your entire family. Thank you for letting me be a part of your incredible life, and for touching mine in so many ways. You will always be in my heart Stoff. Gone, but never, ever forgotten. Love you ❤️❤️❤️
Lexie Stevenson, who portrays Neil’s granddaughter Mattie, took to her Instagram story to share her thoughts on this challenging day. The actress posted a picture of her on-screen grandpa and wrote, “You will be missed, Kristoff. You never ceased to make me laugh even when I was grumpy. I love you, and you will forever be my family.” Then Stevenson replied to her fans writing, “I am getting all of your messages. They do help, and I’m sorry for not responding. I personally do not deal with death very well in general, and I grieve best alone.”
The first Malcolm actor, Moore, called St. John the most iconic black man in daytime. Moore also counted the actor as his brother. In his heartfelt message, Moore sent out love and advice to the late actor’s family and loved ones as well as his co-stars.
The second Malcolm actor, McCrary also took to his Instagram story and used the hashtag #kristoffstjohnforever on several clips through the day.
Victoria Rowell, who portrayed Neil’s wife Dru, tweeted, “Ain’t no mountain high enough, to keep me from you, my beloved @kristoffstjohn1 —though denied for a decade, you never stopped requesting for us to be reunited @CBSDaytime @Sony pushing for #Diversity @YandR_CBS. True #BlackHistoryMonth #IDreamBlack history. Eternally I LOVE you.”
Throughout the day, Rowell also shared several pictures of herself and St. John both as their Y&R altar egos as well as themselves as friends at big events and proud moments including one with Rosa Parks at the NAACP Image Awards.
Child actor Dax Randall portrayed Neil’s son with Sofia Dupre (Julia Pace Mitchell). The boy’s monitored account posted a loving memory of the late actor.
Noah Alexander Gerry posted a sweet tribute to his on-screen grandpa via Instagram.
Bryton James, who runs Hamilton Winters Group with Neil on Y&R, took to Instagram with a vow to continue making St. John proud.
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As one of the lucky people to have experienced Kristoff’s spirit, love & talent first hand.. I can only say thank you forever for loving me, guiding me, protecting me, & for teaching me everyday how to choose to find the levity in life no matter what. I will never stop making you proud. I love you. My man..
Earlier today, the Inquisitr reported that CBS, Sony, and the show wrote a joint message praising St. John’s work. He leaves behind daughters Paris St. John and Lola St. John.