UPDATED, 2/8: CBS has announced that The Young and the Restless will launch a storyline in late April that will pay tribute to Kristoff St. John and his character of Neil Winters.
In the episode of the CBS sudser, Neil Winters (St. John) meets up with his adopted son Devon (Bryton James) at the Genoa City Athletic Club. Devon is about to host an important music showcase so Neil came to watch and support his son.
“It’s your big night,” says Neil, who is splitting time between Genoa City and an out-of-town location so he can be near his incarcerated daughter Lily (the recurring Christel Khalil). “I’m proud of you. I’m really glad I’m here to witness this next triumph in your life.”
The episode is vintage Neil, who’s among the most loving and supportive characters on the show. The rest of the episode features Neil offering quiet, moral support to Devon, who loses his cool over a singer who’s gone MIA. Neil then saves the day by offering a solution — he suggests that Devon’s sister, Ana (who is from another father) sing, instead.
Naturally, Ana is a hit! Neil and Devon fist-bump to celebrate. “She did it for you,” Neil says to Devon. “That’s what family does.”
The episode ended with the tribute, “In Loving Memory Of Our Dear Friend.”
St. John will also be honored during the CBS sudser on Feb. 8. The network is not saying how it will address the character of Neil going forward.
“Kristoff was a joy,” his onetime costar Victoria Rowell said in a statement Wednesday. “He lived for the day. He loved working in film, prime time and starring on The Young and the Restless. He cared about preserving the African American legacy on the show and not being pigeon-holed into a Black storyline. Obviously, we coveted the Black family on Y&R, but we also coveted that we were crossovers. Proud we pulled in a huge audience, and a huge Black, female audience. We understood the gravity of what we were responsible for and he took that very seriously. I shall forever cherish our private and professional time together. Now, is a time for reflection, to mourn his departure and celebrate his brilliance, permanently imprinted on my memory.”
St. John, who was 52, originated the role of Neil on Y&R in 1991 and won two Emmys for playing the makeup executive who was best known for his tempestuous relationship with Drucilla Winters (Victoria Rowell). In October of 2017, the actor took a leave of absence from the show to undergo psychiatric treatment after a reported scare regarding his mental health. He had been open about his battles with depression after the loss of his son, Julian, who died by suicide nearly three years ago.
The actor returned to work at Y&R in March of 2018.