General Hospital and Port Charles star Jay Pickett died Friday while working on his upcoming Western drama Treasure Valley in Idaho. He was 60.
Director and producer Travis Mills, who confirmed the news on the film's official Facebook page Sunday, said Pickett appeared to have suffered a heart attack on set but there was still no "official explanation for the cause of death."
"Many of you have already heard about the tragedy that happened two days ago. Jay Pickett, our leading man, writer, producer, and creator of this movie passed away suddenly while we were on location preparing to film a scene," he wrote. "There is no official explanation for the cause of his death but it appears to have been a heart attack. Everyone present tried as hard as they could to keep him alive. Our hearts are broken and we grieve for his family who are so devastated by this shocking tragedy."
In another post, Pickett's friend who was also working on the film said the actor "died sitting on a horse ready to rope a steer."
"Yesterday I lost a good friend and the world lost a great person. Jay Pickett decided to ride off into the Heavens," Jim Heffel wrote. "Jay died sitting on a horse ready to rope a steer in the movie Treasure Valley in Idaho. The way of a true cowboy. Jay wrote the story and starred in it. He was also coproducer with myself and Vernon Walker. He will be truly missed. Ride like the wind partner [sic]."
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Mills also praised Pickett and spoke highly of working with him on the movie.
"As so many of us know, Jay was an incredible man. He was kind, sweet, and generous. He was one of the best actors I ever worked with and it was an honor to collaborate with him," he continued. "Everyone who met him, even for the briefest moment, could feel his warmth, his wonderful spirit. It is difficult to find the words right now to say more. His closest friends have said that he was very happy making Treasure Valley and my hope is that he truly was. He was doing what he loved: acting, riding horses, making movies. And he was magnificent."
Pickett began his soap opera career as Dr. Chip Lakin on Days of Our Lives and later portrayed Det. David Harper on General Hospital in the 2000s. His most prolific work was playing Frank Scanlon on the ABC soap (and GH spinoff) Port Charles for over 700 episodes. Pickett also made guest appearances on series like Dragnet, Mr. Belvedere, Matlock, Dexter, NCIS: Los Angeles, and Queen Sugar.
Pickett was born in Spokane, Wash., in 1961 and grew up in Caldwell, Idaho. He received his bachelor's degree in acting from Boise State University and his MFA in acting from UCLA, with a focus in theater at both schools. Pickett is survived by his wife and their three children.