HALLMARK FAMILY FACES HEARTBREAKING DEATH: ‘OUR HEARTS ARE HEAVY'

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The Hallmark family is saying goodbye to one of its own. Executive, producer, and screenwriter Jonathan Axelrod died at age 74 on June 13th, Variety reported. Axelrod was responsible for producing over two dozen Hallmark movies, including Mariah Carey's directorial debut, titled A Christmas Melody.

Axelrod's ex-wife, actress Katy Garretson, shared the news that Axelrod passed away in his sleep in a lengthy post on Facebook, where she also shared details of his final days, and revealed that Axelrod died six months after an overdose he seemed to be rebounding from. Garretson also took the time to honor Axelrod, saying "For those of you who knew Jonathan, yes, he was a handful, and he battled his demons for decades. Those demons are now gone, though, and I hope Jonathan is remembered for the gregarious, engaging, usually hilarious, smart, and good man that he truly was."

She also added: "He was a New York then Hollywood kid, the son of George Axelrod (Breakfast at Tiffany's, Bus Stop, Manchurian Candidate…), and his Godmother was Laurel Bacall. He had quite a life. He was a successful producer and studio/network executive who loved and lived for his work, and when the demons didn't bring him down, he was incredibly good at it."

More: Which Hallmark stars have left the network for Great American Family?

Numerous Hollywood insiders responded to Garretson's post with condolences and their own good memories of Axelrod.

Famed Hallmark director Ron Oliver, wrote, "JA came along at the perfect moment and changed my life. I loved him and always knew the feeling was mutual. His warmth and humor and passion for our art form knew no bounds, and his presence in our world made it a better place in so many ways. So many memories and so much laughter and joy. Our hearts are heavy today. Love to you Katy and his family and all his many many friends."

Meanwhile, actress Annie Potts, who starred in the 2012 Hallmark movie The Music Teacher, the first Axelrod produced for Hallmark, wrote, "Oh Katy, Im so sorry to hear this. Sending you much love."

More: Which Hallmark stars have children in real life?

Phoef Sutton, best known for being a writer and executive producer on Cheers, wrote "I'm so sorry Katy. (He) was such a big presence in my life; in so many lives. I hope he knew that. My thoughts are with you."

Axelrod's long career saw him serve as executive producer of movies like Can't Hurry Love and Dave's World. At Hallmark, he produced Carey's A Christmas Melody, which starred Lacey Chabert and Brennan Elliott, two Murder She Baked movies with Allison Sweeney, 16 Garage Sale Mysteries movies, starring Lori Loughlin, and Coming Home for Christmas, which starred Danica McKellar.

Garretson's post indicated there would be a service in New York in the near future, though no exact details were yet available.

Want to know what movies are coming up in Hallmark's 2024 schedule? Click on the gallery below to find out.

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