Trailblazing Stage and Screen Star Jeffrey Carlson Dies at 48
Trailblazing Stage and Screen Star Jeffrey Carlson Dies at 48. Image: Collected

Actor Jeffrey Carlson, known for his remarkable talent on stage and screen, has sadly passed away at the age of 48. Carlson made history with his portrayal of one of the first transgender characters on daytime television in the renowned series All My Children. His friend and colleague Susan Hart shared the news of his passing on July 6.

Born in 1975, Carlson’s destiny in acting was seemingly predetermined as he was named “Jeffrey” after the character Jeff Martin from the daytime television show All My Children, a favorite of his mother. Growing up in Long Beach, California, Carlson pursued his passion for dramatic acting at the University of California Davis. After completing his studies in 1997, he honed his skills at Julliard as part of the Drama Division’s Group 30, graduating in 2001. Shortly after, he made his Broadway debut.

In 2002, Carlson graced the Broadway stage for the first time in Edward Albee’s The Goat or Who is Sylvia?. The following year, he captivated audiences with his performance in the Broadway revival of Molière’s Tartuffe. Subsequently, he played the role of Marilyn in Boy George’s Broadway musical Taboo, earning a Drama Desk nomination. Carlson then ventured into television and film, showcasing his talents in the romantic comedy Hitch, starring alongside Will Smith.

In 2006, Carlson made a significant breakthrough by portraying the groundbreaking character Zarf on All My Children. Zarf, a British rockstar, embarked on a transformative journey on the show, ultimately realizing her identity as a transgender woman named Zoe. Along the way, she fell in love with the lesbian character Bianca, creating a poignant and impactful storyline. Zoe’s portrayal on daytime television marked a pivotal moment in transgender representation, earning All My Children a GLAAD Media Award in 2007 and garnering praise for Carlson’s exceptional performance.

Beyond his television success, Carlson established himself as a prolific performer in classical works, particularly those of William Shakespeare. He showcased his talents at esteemed theaters such as the Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington, D.C., where he took on the titular roles in Lorenzaccio and Hamlet. Additionally, he delivered captivating performances in Measure for Measure at the Goodman Theatre and starred in various productions, including Henry IV, Parts 1 and 2, and Christopher Marlowe’s Edward II at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater.

Carlson, who resided in Chicago and contributed as a teacher, was highly regarded within the Shakespearean community. Broadway actor Patrick Page paid tribute to Carlson on Facebook, describing him as a “great classical actor and a sensitive, luminous human being.” He fondly recalled their time together, stating, “I was fortunate to be Claudius to Jeffrey Carlson’s Hamlet, and experience his quicksilver talent at close range. It was, as Coleridge said of Kean, ‘like reading Shakespeare by flashes of lightning.’ There was no one like him.”

The Shakespeare Theatre Company also expressed their condolences and sorrow for the loss of Carlson. They shared a poignant quote from Hamlet’s final act: “Good night, sweet prince, and may flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.”

Source: playbill

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