Actor Maurice Benard confirmed the actor’s death Tuesday on Instagram.
“It is with great sadness that we share the news of the passing of Tyler Christopher,” the longtime friend and co-star wrote. “Tyler passed away this morning following a cardiac event in his San Diego apartment.
“Tyler was a truly talented individual that lit up the screen in every scene he performed and relished bringing joy to his loyal fans through his acting. Tyler was a sweet soul and wonderful friend to all of those who knew him. Tyler was an advocate for better mental health and substance use treatment who openly spoke about his struggles with bipolar depression and alcohol. We are beyond devastated by the loss of our dear friend and pray for his children and his father.”
Christopher portrayed Nikolas Cassadine on America’s longest-running soap opera from 1996 to 2016. His performance on the medical soap scored a Daytime Emmy Award for outstanding lead, as well as multiple nominations. Christopher also starred as Stefan DiMera on “Days of Our Lives” from 2018 to 2019, for which he earned the last of his five Daytime Emmy nominations.
“General Hospital” executive producer Frank Valentini posted on Instagram commemorating the actor.
“I am heartbroken over the news of Tyler Christopher’s passing. He was kind, an incredible actor and a dear friend, who was beloved by our #GH family and fans of Nikolas Cassadine,” he wrote. “On behalf of everyone at [‘General Hospital’] our heartfelt sympathies go out to his loved ones during this difficult time.”
Tyler Christopher Baker was born Nov. 11, 1972, in Joliet, Ill., and grew up in Delaware, Ohio. He was the youngest of four children, with siblings all around a decade or so older. Although he dedicated much of his adolescence to athletics, he was small for his age and eventually shifted his focus from football to acting. After high school, he attended Ohio Wesleyan University for two years and then moved to Los Angeles.
In the early 1990s, Christopher auditioned for “General Hospital,” but the the role went to another actor. In 1996, he was cast to portray Cassadine for the serial, kicking off his soap-star career. He was wildly successful on the daytime drama but struggled with bipolar disorder for most of his life and later with substance-abuse issues. During a 2022 appearance of Benard’s “State of Mind” podcast, Christopher addressed his departure from “General Hospital,” telling Benard, “It crushed me, because I took for granted the one thing I love the most.” He said it was “devastating” for myriad reasons.
“One, the thing that I love the most was taken away. Two, I threw it away,” he said. “Nobody took it away from me. I dropped it, OK? Having to walk out those doors under that circumstance was like, ‘Wow, this is for real, dude. This is for real.’ My pride and ego were very quick to intervene. ‘Who can I blame for this?’ And when I looked in the mirror, there was only one person to point the finger at.”
He also revealed on the podcast that he first tried alcohol when he was 9 years old and, due to his alcohol abuse, nearly died three times — twice from alcohol poisoning and once from an episode that happened during substance withdrawal, when Christopher fell and had to have an emergency craniotomy.
Subsequent to the episode, doctors mandated that Christopher be placed under a medical guardianship, which led him to Ohio, where he lived with his sister, Susan Asmo Baker. In Ohio, he said he struggled with isolation.
Christopher married “Desperate Housewives” star Eva Longoria in 2002, but the couple split in 2004. In 2008, he married former ESPN reporter Brienne Pedigo. He and Pedigo had two children, Greysun James Christopher and Boheme Christopher, and reportedly divorced in 2021.
Christopher disclosed on “State of Mind” in 2022 that he was in the process of writing a book detailing his struggles with mental health and substance abuse.
“The main goal of this book is to not get the story out so people can feel sorry for me. One reason for another addict, another guy or gal with bipolar, to read that and say to themselves, I’m like that too. There’s nothing wrong with it.”
It’s unclear whether Christopher’s book was finished before his death.
This story originally appeared on LATimes