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John Reilly, General Hospital and Passions Vet, Dead at 86

John Reilly Dead General Hospital

Veteran actor John Reilly, whose daytime-TV credits alone included General Hospital, Passions and Sunset Beach, died on Saturday evening, TVLine has learned. He was 86.

One of Reilly’s daughters, actress and TikTok personality Caitlin Reilly, shared the news via Instagram saying, “John Henry Matthew Reilly AKA Jack. The brightest light in the world has gone out.” A cause of death has not yet been shared.

“Imagine the best person in the world. Now imagine that person being your dad,” Caitlin wrote. “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. I honestly don’t know what I’m going to do, but I know he’ll be with me. I love you forever Daddy.”

The Chicago-born actor’s early career began with arcs on As the World Turns (as Dr. Dan Stewart), How the West Was Won, Quincy M.E. and Dallas (as Roy Ralston).

In February 1984, he made his GH debut as Sean Donely, Robert Scorpio’s former WSB (World Security Bureau) boss, who proved to be a bit of a foil during Frisco and Felicia’s Aztec Treasure hunt (watch his debut below). Following a redemption arc, superspy Sean was romantically paired with actress Tiffany Hill (played by Sharon Wyatt).

“He was a big brother to me. The kindest man you ever could find,” fellow GH vet Finola Hughes, who plays Anna and Alex Devane, told TVLine. “I cannot express how sorry I am to hear of his passing.”

Hughes later shared more on Instagram:

Darling John Reilly. One of the first days I walked on the GH set this tall, handsome man in a leather jacket sauntered towards me. In his deep, all American growl he welcomed me to the show and told me he would be there for me should I ever need anything. Boy was he true to his word. A consummate professional, I would run lines with him each day we worked (we worked a ton). His dressing room was two doors from mine. Many the day I would lounge on the floor in the hallway (don’t ask me why) and we would break down scenes. The three of us (Tristan [Rogers], John & me) would tear things apart until we were happy with the result and then go on set and perform. At the end of each scene John would do one of two things. He would either bellow his contagious laugh or he would get a quizzical expression on his face and ask ‘Was that it? Did we get it?’ Brilliantly intuitive, yet he was always concerned with the outcome. John’s sensitivity and kindness was most apparent with his family and friends. His love of his wife Liz and their gorgeous daughters was legion. I am so happy I got to experience and see that love firsthand. One of a kind. Fellow Irishman, Godspeed. Love you #JohnReilly rip

Following Reilly’s 11-year GH run, he voiced Hawkeye/Clint Barton on the animated Iron Man series, played Kelly Taylor’s pop on Beverly Hills, 90210, and then had multi-year runs on both Sunset Beach (as Del Douglas) and Passions (replacing the late David Bailey as Alistair Crane).

Reilly’s acting credits also include the short-lived spinoff General Hospital: Night Shift (where he reprised the role of Sean) and the web soap The Bay. And yes, he is the reason Talladega Nights‘ John C. Reilly uses a middle initial professionally.

Reilly is survived by his wife Liz, a total of five daughters, and two grandchildren.

Watch John Reilly’s Debut as GH‘s Sean Donely