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New Documentary Sheds Light On The Tragic Life Of Y&R's Kristoff St. John

kristoff st. john

The daytime community was rocked in February 2019 by the unexpected and tragic passing of Kristoff St. John, who for decades played the fan-favorite role of Neil Winters on Young and Restless. Now, reports People, a new, hard-hitting documentary about the actor’s life, titled Kristoff, will be released in early 2025. Directed by Bobby Razak, it chronicles the beloved actor’s struggles with sexual assault, mental illness, years of alcohol and drug abuse and the death of his son, Julian, in 2014.

The documentary looks back at St. John’s life as a child actor. The son of actor Christopher St. John, he made his television debut at the age of 8 in the sitcom That’s My Mama, then went on to appear in the miniseries Roots: The Next Generation (playing a 12-year-old Alex Haley) and shows like Happy Days,  and Bad News Bears, which also starred Tricia Cast, who went on to become his Y&R co-star as Nina. After a two-year stint as Adam on the soap Generations, St. John was lured to Genoa City in 1991 by Y&R’s co-creator and head writer, William J. Bell, to fill the newly-created role of Neil, a hotshot executive trainee at Jabot. The character particularly took off when paired romantically opposite Victoria Rowell’s headstrong Drucilla. When St. John passed away, the show scripted a poignant on-screen death for Neil, who succumbed to a stroke.

During St. John’s 28-year run as Neil, he won two Daytime Emmys (for Outstanding Younger actor in 1992 and Outstanding Supporting Actor in 2008) as well as four (NAACP) Image Awards. But as revealed in the trailer for the documentary, there were years of dysfunction and heartache dogging him behind the scenes. In the gripping trailer, which was provided exclusively to People and can be viewed here, St. John’s struggles began when he was a child, when, he claims, he was sexually abused by a spiritual leader his family had followed. In the documentary his ex-wife, Mia St. John, corroborates that St. John was bipolar and became addicted to alcohol and drugs (affecting his work performance), and that these dependencies were exerbated when his son, Julian, the oldest of three children began exhibiting mental health issues. That culminated in tragedy when Julian, at the age the age of 24, died while a patient at a mental health facility. Although hisd eath was ruled a suicide, St. John would insist that his son was murdered. By then, his former wife explains, “He couldn’t find a way out. He couldn’t save himself. Nobody could save him.”