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US soap actor Kristoff St. John dead at 52

US soap actor Kristoff St. John dead at 52.jpg

In this June 20, 2008, file photo Kristoff St. John accepts the award for outstanding supporting actor in a drama series for his work on "The Young and the Restless" at the 35th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Matt Sayles, File)

Kristoff St. John, who played the struggling alcoholic and ladies' man Neil Winters for 27 years on American soap opera The Young and the Restless, has died. He was 52.

Los Angeles police were called to his home on Sunday and his body was turned over to the coroner. The cause of death was not immediately available.

St. John had played Neil Winters on the show since 1991, earning nine daytime Emmy nominations. He won a Daytime Emmy in 1992 for outstanding younger actor in a drama series and won 10 NAACP Image Awards.

His business guy character wended his way through romances, deaths of loved ones and other daytime travails that descended into alcoholism, until his Winters went to rehab.

St. John announced in September that he was engaged to model Kseniya Mikhaleva.

"So early.....so early," she wrote in her Instagram Stories. "Why you are leave so early????Why...you are always in my heart."

St. John was twice married and divorced and was the father of a son and two daughters. His 24-year-old son, Julian, died in 2014.

CBS and Sony Pictures Television said in a joint statement that St. John's death is heartbreaking.

"He was a very talented actor and an even better person. For those of us who were fortunate enough to work with him on 'The Young and the Restless' for the last 27 years, he was a beloved friend whose smile and infectious laugh made every day on set a joy and made audiences love him," the statement said.

Fellow cast members and friends were shocked and saddened.

"Sitting by myself in my car! It's raining outside, with dark clouds and wind outside... am reading your tweets about my friend KRISTOFF! Thank you all for your kind words! I have none right now! He was a hell of an actor and simply one of the nicest guys ever! Can't believe it!" tweeted Eric Braeden, who plays Victor Newman on the show.

Viola Davis and Yvette Nicole Brown were among others. Brown tweeted: "No!!! This news has truly broken my heart. Kristoff was pure & so kind. I will never forget how wonderful he was to me and everyone else he came into contact with. He was just a good, good man."

© AP 2019