Ben Jorgensen, a former soap star who played Kevin Sheffield on All My Children and Chris Hughes on As the World Turns, died by suicide at the age of 51, according to his friends. Jorgensen, who also went by the name Ben Monk, was found dead at his mother’s home in the U.K. on October 6, 2020.
A Courageous Actor Who Broke Barriers
Jorgensen was born in London, England, in July 1969. He moved to New York City with his family in 1977 and pursued an acting career. He studied at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, HB Studio, Scott Freeman Studio, and the European School of Dramatic Art. He also appeared in a Calvin Klein “Obsession” commercial as his first acting gig.
Jorgensen made his film debut in The Basketball Diaries (1995), starring Leonardo DiCaprio. He also starred in The Break (1995), alongside Martin Sheen. However, he was best known for his roles on the daytime soap operas All My Children and As the World Turns.
Jorgensen played Kevin Sheffield on All My Children from 1995 to 1998. His character was one of the first gay teenagers on television and was involved in a groundbreaking storyline that dealt with homophobia, bullying, and coming out. Jorgensen received praise for his courageous and sensitive portrayal of Kevin, who struggled with his sexuality and identity.
Jorgensen also played Chris Hughes on As the World Turns from 1999 to 2001. His character was the son of Bob and Kim Hughes, one of the most iconic couples on the show. Jorgensen’s Chris was a rebellious and troubled young man who had a complicated relationship with his parents and his brother Tom.
A Creative and Exciting Person Who Suffered from Mental Illness
Jorgensen was described by his friends as a creative, exciting, and absurd person who had a non-stop energy and passion for life. He was also interested in music, photography, and editing. He lived in Brooklyn’s Greenpoint neighborhood, which he said reminded him of the artistic vibe of SoHo in the 1970s.
However, Jorgensen also suffered from bipolar disorder, a mental illness that causes mood swings, depression, and mania. According to Heavy.com, Jorgensen had attempted suicide before and had been hospitalized several times. He also struggled with substance abuse and addiction.
Jorgensen’s friend and former co-star Brian Gaskill announced his death on social media on October 7, 2020. He said that he had not spoken to Jorgensen in years, but he heard that he died by suicide. He expressed his condolences to Jorgensen’s family and friends and urged people to seek help if they need it.
Other friends also confirmed Jorgensen’s death and shared their memories and tributes. Tara Rachel Jones said that Jorgensen took his own life at his mother’s home in the U.K. Chilly Pete Kirchhausen said that Jorgensen’s mental suffering was over and he hoped he was at peace.
A Tragic Loss for the Soap Opera Community
Jorgensen’s death was a tragic loss for the soap opera community, which mourned his passing and celebrated his legacy. Many fans and colleagues remembered him as a talented and brave actor who broke barriers and touched many lives with his performances.
Jorgensen was not the only soap star who died in 2020. John Callahan, who played Edmund Grey on All My Children, died at the age of 66 after suffering a stroke in March 2020. Roscoe Born, who played Mitch Laurence on One Life to Live, died by suicide at the age of 69 in March 2020. Anthony Addabbo, who played Jim Lemay on Guiding Light, died at the age of 56 in October 2020.
Jorgensen is survived by his mother, his sister Mahalia, and his brother Stark. He was also close to his niece and nephew, who called him Uncle Ben. He will be missed by his family, friends, and fans. Rest in peace, Ben Jorgensen.