Soap Star Hendrickson Commits Suicide

UPDATED 07/07/2006 at 04:20 PM EDT Originally published 07/06/2006 at 09:05 AM EDT

Soap Star Hendrickson Commits Suicide
Benjamin Hendrickson
Aaron Montgomery/JPI
Emmy-winning As the World Turns star Benjamin Hendrickson died over the weekend at his home in Huntington, N.Y. He was 55.

Police said Hendrickson committed suicide with a gunshot to the head, the Associated Press reports. On Monday, local police officers were called to Hendrickson's Long Island home by concerned neighbors, and found the actor dead in his bed.

It was not known whether he left a note.

Friends told the New York Post on Thursday that the actor had been depressed since the death of his mother from cancer in 2003 – the same year he won a Daytime Emmy as best supporting actor in a soap opera.

In his acceptance speech, he dedicated his award to his mother, joking, "To my mom, who scrimped and saved to send me to Juilliard to study the classics – I'm sorry."

For 21 years, Hendrickson, a bachelor, played tough-but-gentle police chief Hal Munson. Recently, he had been filming scenes in which his TV daughter was dying, the Post reported.

"He was a marvelous and gifted man," longtime costar Ellen Dolan, who plays detective sidekick Margo Hughes, told the paper. "I just know him to be a wonderful man with a big heart – we are all part of a tight family here. I am just heartbroken."

Hendrickson's final appearance on the CBS soap will air July 12.

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