‘The Young and the Restless’ Star Eva LaRue Opens Up About Heartbreaking Final Moments With Ex-Husband John Callahan

Eva LaRue has had a bittersweet few months. After the passing of her ex-husband, close friend, and father of her daughter, John Callahan, LaRue received a bit of good news. The former All My Children actress was nominated for a Daytime Emmy in the Outstanding Guest Performer in a Drama Series for her work as Celeste Rosales on CBS’ The Young and the Restless. Still, the loss of Callahan is fresh. Here’s how LaRue recounted those final days.

Eva LaRue and John Callahan had a memorable connection on and off the set

Eva LaRue and John Callahan
Eva LaRue and John Callahan | ERIC LIEBOWITZ/©2004 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc./American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. cap/LCJ/WW

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From 1996 through 2005, Eva LaRue and John Callahan had the marriage soap opera fans dreamed of. After starring alongside one another in All My Children, the two married and had a daughter, Kaya, in 2001.

Though the two had a great post-divorce relationship in later years, LaRue recently revealed to Michael Fairman TV it wasn’t always that way.

“Like any divorce, the first four years afterward were super contentious but then, by year five, we kind of had this major breakthrough, and from then on, he was one of my closest friends,” she said.

LaRue, who played Dr. Maria Santos on All My Children — opposite Callahan’s Edmund Gray — credits falling in love the first time around to dancing.

“Originally our characters on AMC met at this country-western bar, and we had to take country line dancing lessons on the show.  They hired a choreographer for us so that during those scenes where we were falling in love, we would actually be able to do a two-step!” she explained.

The actress and Callahan practiced in country-western bars with other stars such as Kelly Ripa.

“John and I also loved singing together,” she said. “So, when he would come over, we would sit in the kitchen and sing, and sing, and sing until the late hours because that’s what we loved to do, and that’s what he loved to do.  That’s one of my favorite last memories of us.”

Friendship followed post-divorce

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More so after the divorce, LaRue said, “John was my dear friend and my confidant.”

The Emmy winner added that she and Callahan “remained really great friends all the way.” That said, his sudden death is something she and their daughter still haven’t come to terms with, understandably.

“I don’t think anybody, and even Kaya were talking about it, because she graduated this week, and her dad is not here,” she said. “We’re not having graduation, because of COVID-19, which sucks on top of it, but we were just kind of talking through the feelings of it.”

LaRue admitted he often talked to Callahan about his heart and health but he always told her not to worry. “‘I’m going to be here a long time and am going to be here to walk Kaya down the aisle and see her kids and all that. Stop worrying.'”

She continued: “Every time he said it to me, something in my gut said, ‘I don’t think he is. I don’t think he is,’ but I always just dismissed that. Never in my wildest dreams did I think John wouldn’t make it to her high school graduation. He was only 66.”

LaRue recalled the heartbreaking final moments before Callahan’s death

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On March 28, 2020, Callahan suffered a stroke, according to his representative, Marv Dauer (via USA Today). LaRue detailed the days leading up to his death saying the actor had heart procedures done. She called to speak with him beforehand.

“I called him in the morning before he went in for the procedure,” she said. I said, ‘Call me as soon as you get out of there. Call me as soon as you come-to again, and you’re good’, and he said, ‘Okay, I will.'”

She’d planned to take their daughter to stay with him thinking she might go, too. Then she discovered his procedures were a little more involved, but they’d sent him home anyway. She offered to stay with him bu Callahan said he was tired and for her to come in the morning.

“So, in the morning, I called him at 9:00 a.m. No answer,” she said. “I texted him. He always texted me like Johnny on the spot and then texts me immediately back. So, I call him again at 10. Nothing.”

A neighbor found Callahan unresponsive

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When she spoke with [Callahan’s] best friend, he said [Callahan] wasn’t feeling well and planned to go back to the hospital. Still, LaRue felt as though something was off. She asked another friend who lived near to break into the house if no one answered the door.

“He did, and John was collapsed in the bathroom,” she said. “They called the paramedics, and as soon as they called me back and said, ‘John is unresponsive in the bathroom.'”

She and their daughter made it to the hospital just before they put him in ICU. But, they almost weren’t allowed in with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic underway.

“Thank God the person answering the door was an All My Children fan,” she said. “We followed this woman secretly, and we get to spend a half-hour with him in Emergency. He was already on life-support, totally unresponsive, but we got to play John his favorite music, we got to just sit there and hold his hand and talk to him, and tell him how much we loved him.”

The star and their daughter had around 30 minutes with Callahan before he moved to ICU, where they wouldn’t see him. Later that night, LaRue got the call that he had died.

The actress couldn’t hold a traditional funeral but did adopt Callahan’s dog

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Due to COVID-19, LaRue said there wasn’t an official funeral.

“That’s what made it all the more heartbreaking. There were less than twenty of us, and we just got on a Zoom call and memorialized John,” she said. “I thought we were going to do a big Zoom memorial, but it seemed so overwhelming and so impersonal, it just was rubbing us wrong in every way.”

In the end, LaRue decided Callahan deserved a party in his honor and she would organize such when quarantine restrictions lift and all is as close to “normal” as possible.

For the time being, the actress memorialized her late ex-husband by singing a song Bette Midler performed, changing the words to suit Callahan.

“We always talked about that last episode of Carson; how stunningly emotional it was when Bette sang that song to kind of sing Johnny off for all of his years on the air,” she said. “So, that’s what I did and because we loved to sing together, it just made sense.”

That aside, LaRue also took in [Callahan’s] beloved dog. She took to Instagram to share the news.

“Welcome to the family Cali! Wasn’t looking to add another thing that poops to the household, but she was John’s baby, and I know she’ll be just what God ordered to help us heal and vice versa,” she said.

Our thoughts are with LaRue and Kaya for their continued healing.