Jay Pickett, who starred on Days of Our Lives, Port Charles, and General Hospital, died on Friday while making a movie in Idaho. He was 60. Pickett, who was born in Spokane, Washington, and grew up in Caldwell, Idaho, was filming a Western called Treasure Valley at the time of his death. The actor also wrote and co-produced the film.
Treasure Valley co-star Jim Heffel shared the sad news on Facebook, alongside several photos from the production. “Yesterday I lost a good friend and the world lost a great person,” Heffel wrote. “Jay Pickett decided to ride off into the Heavens. 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 [a] coproducer with myself and Vernon Walker. He will be truly missed. Ride like the wind [partner].”
The cause of death is unknown, but producer Travis Mills wrote on Sunday that it appears Pickett suffered 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,” Mills wrote on Facebook. He went on to praise Pickett as an “incredible” man who was “kind, sweet, and generous.” Pickett “was one of the best actors I ever worked with and it was an honor to collaborate with him,” Mills wrote. “He was doing what he loved: acting, riding horses, making movies. And he was magnificent,” Mills added.
Pickett started working in television in the late 1980s and scored his first major role as Dr. Chip Lakin on Days of Our Lives from 1991 to 1992. He went on to play Frank Scanlon in over 700 episodes of Port Charles, the General Hospital spin-off that ran from 1997 to 2003. Three years later, he returned to the General Hospital franchise as Det. David Harper, starring in 60 episodes.
Pickett’s other credits include episodes of NCIS: Los Angeles, Dexter, Queen Sugar, Desperate Housewives, Matlock, and Saving Grace. He wrote, starred in, and produced the 2012 movie Soda Springs, starring Tom Skerritt. Pickett is survived by his wife, Elena, and their three children.
Marie Wilson, who played Karen Cates on Port Charles with Pickett, paid tribute to her co-star with a heartbreaking post on Instagram Sunday. “This is one of the most difficult posts I’ve done,” Wilson wrote. “My heart is broken to hear that this incredible person has passed. Words cannot describe how much you touched my life….your friendship, advice, and support made me feel so grateful and lucky. My first day on the set was with us having a water fight ….and the fun adventures continued from there. So happy to have shared all those moments with you. I will miss you, my friend.”