Jeffrey Carlson (1975-2023)
Jeffrey Stephen Carlson, 48, of Chicago's Andersonville neighborhood passed away July 6, 2023. Accomplished Broadway actor, esteemed classical performer, and a dedicated teacher of Shakespeare who leaves behind a legacy of unforgettable performances.
Born in Long Beach, California June 23, 1975. His talented career in the arts took him from television and film to Broadway and finally teaching at Chicago Shakespeare Theater.
Upon graduating from the prestigious Juilliard Drama Division and training at the University of California at Davis and the Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis, Jeffrey went straight to Broadway, where he is remembered for his electrifying starring roles in Edward Albee’s “The Goat, Or Who Is Sylvia?” alongside Bill Pullman, as well as in Rosie O’Donnell’s production of “Taboo.” Onscreen, he appeared in "Hitch", "Backseat", "The Killing Floor", and television shows “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.”and "All My Children".
Jeffrey is particularly remembered for his 59 episodes of “All My Children” in 2006 and 2007, playing the first transgender character to appear on daytime television — Zarf the British rockstar, who transitioned into a female named Zoe. Not transgender himself, Jeffrey wanted to get the role right, recalled Chicago-based actress Susan Hart. “He realized he was representing a group of people he was proud to get to know and represent,” she said. “He had hundreds and hundreds of fans who not only wrote to him but sent him gifts, teddy bears and trinkets.”
Beyond Broadway, Jeffrey was a leading classical actor of his generation. His portrayals of Romeo, Hamlet, Iachimo, Mercutio, and Richard II (among others) at top classical theaters around the world received the commendation of audiences and critics alike.
Jeffrey played Prince Hal in "Henry IV, Parts 1 & 2" at Chicago Shakespeare Theater, which was then subsequently transferred to the prestigious Royal Shakespeare Theatre Company in Stratford-Upon-Avon, UK, where The Guardian described him as "a star in the making".
He also originated roles in many new works by leading playwrights of the day including Edward Albee, Itamar Moses, Lee Blessing, Sarah Ruhl, and Terrance McNally.
Jeffrey carried his love for Shakespeare beyond the stage into the classroom where he was a much beloved teacher in the Chicago theater community. His many students remember him as a transformative mentor, advocate, and friend.
Jeffrey was the son of Stephen Trent and Susan Lynn Carlson (nee Dufford), brother to Christopher (Freshta) Carlson, Elizabeth (Chris) Gingras, and the late Gregory Carlson, uncle to Blake Andrews, Avery Andrews, Jameson Gingras, Tyler Gingras, and Leah Gingras, grandparents Sandra Lee Williams the late David Williams, and Donald Dufford, Mary Germaine Carlson, and Delwin Edward Carlson. Jeffrey also leaves behind his cherished pup Aspen.
Celebrations of life are being planned in Chicago and California. For information, contact email@example.com.