It’s hard to believe that it has already been more than two years since Kristoff St. John passed away. In the months following his death, “The Young and the Restless” celebrated his life through a tribute episode dedicated to the late actor and his popular character, Neil Ellis Winters. Now the soap will do it again next week when they celebrate the character’s life experiences from the more than three decades he spent in Genoa City, which will include flashbacks scenes of St. John’s time on the show.
First reported by PEOPLE, the Friday, May 28 episode of the soap finds Neil’s children — Lily (Christel Khalil), Devon (Bryton James) and Moses (Jacob Aaron Gaines) — planning a walking tour in Genoa City featuring the sights and sounds from Neil’s past on the two-year anniversary of the character’s passing.
“‘Y&R’ has done a really great job at putting together this episode that’s really unique,” says James in an interview with Soap Opera Digest in its newest issue, on newsstands now, of what viewers can expect to see. “I think it’s a really cool concept. It’s not just a traditional thing of everyone just gathered around and talking about Neil. It utilizes the entire world of Genoa City.”
Breaking down the episode’s theme, the aforementioned walking tour, James says, “Devon has asked different people to participate in this by using their own locations. For instance, Sharon [Sharon Case] contributes the coffeehouse by having a special drink in Neil’s honor, and we see her and Devon sharing stories about him. And Victor [Eric Braeden] sets up an elaborate display of Neil’s accomplishments at Newman Enterprises in the lobby of Newman Tower.”
As for Devon’s contribution, he offers up his restaurant, Society, as an exhibition of Neil’s love for music.
“I loved that ‘Y&R’ not only remembered Kristoff on the anniversary of Neil’s death, but did it so beautifully,” notes Khalil to Digest. “We love that we continue to honor him and the wonderful person he was. I’ll miss him forever…”
Additional characters taking part in the walking tour include Neil’s nephew, Nate Hastings (Sean Dominic), Nikki Newman (Melody Thomas Scott), Jack Abbott (Peter Bergman), Nicholas Newman (Joshua Morrow), Phyllis Summers (Michelle Stafford), and Ashley Abbott (Eileen Davidson), among others.
Airing in late April 2019, the first tribute episode dedicated to St. John and his Neil character included the returns of former flames Sofia Dupre (Julia Pace Mitchell) and Leslie Michaelson (Angell Conwell), Neil’s brother, Malcolm (Shemar Moore), and more for Neil’s funeral. An extra non-fiction special featuring cast conversations of their time working alongside St. John included the on-air returns of Mishael Morgan (ex-Hilary Curtis Winters; now Amanda Sinclair) and Victoria Rowell (ex-Drucilla Winters).
“Family always matters,” wrote James on Instagram recently, referencing the upcoming episode.
More than a month after his death in February 2019, an autopsy report revealed the actor’s death had been ruled accidental with the cause listed as hypertrophic heart disease. Other conditions contributing, but not related to the immediate cause of death included myocardial bridging of the left anterior descending coronary artery and the effects of ethanol. The condition is said to cause atrial fibrillation, obstructed blood flow and, in rare cases, sudden cardiac death.