R.I.P. John Reilly – Actor Best Known for Portrayal of Sean Donely on ‘General Hospital’ Dead at 84

John Reilly, General Hospital
Carrie Nelson/Shutterstock

Appearing on a multitude of daytime soap operas throughout his television career and a host of primetime TV series, actor John Reilly has died. He was 84 years old.

“The brightest light in the world has gone out,” wrote Caitlin Reilly, John’s daughter, on Instagram of her father’s passing. “Imagine the best person in the world. Now imagine that person being your dad. I’m so grateful he was mine. I’m so grateful I got to love him. I’m so grateful I made it in time to hold him and say goodbye. I honestly don’t know what I’m going to do, but I know he’ll be with me. I love you forever Daddy.”

Born John Henry Matthew Reilly on November 11, 1936, in Chicago, Illinois, Reilly made his television debut in 1974 playing a police officer in an episode of the series “Police Story.” In that same year, the actor would appear in episodes of “Apple’s Away,” “Gunsmoke” and the soap opera “As The World Turns” which is where daytime viewers got their first glimpse of Reilly as Dr. Dan “Danny” Stewart. He played the role for two years until he left for greater pastures, including appearances in “Kojak” and “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.”

In 1978, Reilly portrayed Jeremiah Taylor in a batch of episodes of “How the West Was Won.” He would later appear in such primetime classics as “Three’s Company,” “Newhart,” “Benson,” “Cagney & Lacey,” “Silver Spoons” and “Remington Steele,” among others.

With his 1984 debut on “General Hospital,” soap fans knew him best for his portrayal of Sean Donely. The character, married to Tiffany Donely (Sharon Wyatt), quickly became a fan favorite during the action/adventure era of the drama series.

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Reilly would later play a role in such primetime soapy dramas as “Dallas,” “Dynasty,” “Beverly Hills, 90210,” “Melrose Place” and “Paper Dolls.” He reprised his role as Sean Donely on “General Hospital: Night Shift,” the primetime spinoff of “GH” that aired on SOAPnet for just one season in 2008. By 2013, the actor finally made a brief return to the mother soap where it was learned that his character was an accomplice of Jerry Jacks (Sebastian Roché) who terrorized Port Charles in 2007 during the highly-rated Metro Court Hotel hostage crisis.

In addition to “ATWT” and “GH,” Reilly played Alistar Crane on “Passions,” Del Douglas on “Sunset Beach,” Mortimer on “The Bay” and Marquis of La Cienega on “Days of our Lives.”

Reilly is survived by his wife, Liz, and his three daughters, two of whom from a previous marriage.

You can watch a clip of Reilly’s “GH” debut below.

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