September 30, 2023

‘The show died with him in many ways’

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 08: Actor Cory Monteith arrives at the 12th Annual Chrysalis Butterfly Ball on June 08, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Jonathan Leibson/Getty Images for Chrysalis)

Cory Monteith became a TV star after being cast as Finn Hudson on Fox’s cheerfulness in 2009. He passed away just four years later — on July 13, 2013 — rocking his co-stars, including girlfriend Lea Michele, and fans of the musical dramedy. He’s pictured here on June 8, 2013 – just over a month before he accidentally died of an overdose. (Photo: Jonathan Leibson/Getty Images for Chrysalis)

Cory Monteith, beloved by Gleeks everywhere for his role as Finn Hudson, died 10 years ago at the age of 31.

The Canadian actor had a summer break of cheerfulness, on which he played a singing quarterback since the debut of the popular musical drama Fox in May 2009. Fans were drawn to him — and became interested in his later romance with co-star Lea Michele, who lost his on-screen love, Rachel Berry, played. Off-camera, journalists who interacted with him described him as “selfless, unaffected and so real”, as well as a “humble individual who never let the fame that came with starring in one of TV’s biggest sensations go to his head”.

GLEE: Rachel (Lea Michele, L) and Finn (Cory Monteith, R) have dinner with her dads at the

Lea Michele as Rachel and Cory Monteith as Finn in the Glee episode “Heart”. (Photo: FOX Image Collection via Getty Images)

Monteith, who spoke candidly about his battle with substance abuse and sought treatment in rehab after an intervention led by Dr. cheerfulness showrunner Ryan Murphy, was found dead in his hotel room on the 21st floor of the Vancouver Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel around noon on July 13, 2013

According to the coroner’s report, Monteith, who ended a seven-day stay, was unable to check out and was found on the floor of his room. He “was clearly deceased and resuscitation was not attempted,” the report said.

Monteith had returned to his room alone, footage showed. There were drug paraphernalia, including a spoonful of drug residue and a hypodermic needle, as well as two empty champagne bottles in the room. It was ruled that he died of “a mixed drug toxicity”, from heroin and alcohol, which was ruled “accidental”. (Traces of morphine and codeine were also in his system.)

VANCOUVER, BC - JULY 14: Exterior views of the Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel where actor Cory Monteith was found dead at the Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel on July 14, 2013 in Vancouver, Canada.  (Photo by Phillip Chin/Getty Images)

External view of the Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel. (Photo: Phillip Chin/Getty Images)

When memorials popped up outside the hotel, as well as Paramount Studios in Los Angeles, where cheerfulness friends and colleagues who spent time with Monteith in his final days said he was “very positive” and “felt fantastic”.

However, his battle with addiction was a long-fought one. Early drug use, starting at age 13, led to his mother organizing an intervention when he was 19. He went to rehab, but it didn’t cure him. After humble beginnings wi
th jobs as a Walmart greeter and roofer, Monteith—sober at the time—moved to Los Angeles and landed acting roles.

His mother, Ann McGregor, said in 2018 that he was returning to old ways in LA, and admitted to her in December 2012 that he had returned to drugs. While he spent the month of April 2013 in rehab, when he was released, he underwent major dental work between May and July – covering all of his teeth. McGregor suspected that painkillers given to him during treatment were affecting his sobriety.

VANCOUVER, BC - JULY 19: Fans pay tribute at the Candle Light Vigil for Cory Monteith at the Fairmont Pacific Rim on July 19, 2013 in Vancouver, Canada.  (Photo by Phillip Chin/Getty Images)

Fans pay tribute during the Candle Light Vigil for Cory Monteith at the Fairmont Pacific Rim on July 19, 2013 in Vancouver, Canada. (Photo: Phillip Chin/Getty Images)

McGregor also said that at the time of death, “He didn’t have enough drugs in his body to kill him, but for some reason he did because of his intolerance,” which had built up during periods of intermittent sobriety.

Co-stars and celebrities reacted to Monteith’s death on social media, including a “speechless” Taylor Swift, whom he was briefly associated with in 2011. His girlfriend Michele broke her silence weeks later. She was forced to flee her home because of paparazzi cheerfulness guest star Kate Hudson helps give her privacy to grieve.

Murphy and Michele organized a private memorial for Monteith for the cast and crew. It was also stipulated that although the show would be delayed for a week upon returning for the season, they would return to work grieving together, with grief counselors on set. He said Michele, whom he described as “a rock”, was integral to the decision.

The show paid homage to Monteith and his character, with a tribute episode titled “The Quarterback”, which aired in October 2013. There weren’t many dry eyes. It was noted everywhere that it didn’t matter how Finn died (and by default Monteith himself), but how he lived. Michele did a heartbreaking cover of Bob Dylan’s “Make You Feel My Love.”

LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 15: Cory Monteith Memorial as seen on July 15, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Barry King/FilmMagic)

Cory Monteith Memorial as seen on July 15, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo: Barry King/FilmMagic)

Murphy has since said they recorded the tribute “way too early” while being “too raw”. While the show ran for another two seasons, ending in 2015, he said “our hearts all broke” after Monteith’s death “and we were totally done with it. The spirit and joy of it has left the building.” He said if he could do it all over again, “We would have stopped for a very long time and probably not come back. I would say, ‘That’s the end’… Because you can’t really recover from something like that.”

cheerfulness alum Jenna Ushkowitz expressed a similar sentiment on her rewatch podcast with co-star Kevin McHale, And that’s what you really missed. She said in November, “Finn was the heart of the show and Cory was the heart of our group. … I feel like when Cory died, in a lot of ways the show died with him.”

Michele, who has gone on to marry and start a family, honors her late co-star and love every year. She has also written numerous songs about him, including “If You Say So.” She has also received multiple tattoo tributes including his character’s shirt number – 5.

While she has remained relatively private since his death, she did share Glamor UK. they talked about growing old together. Despite her loss, “I feel like I got the best part of Cory, and I’m thankful for that.” She said Seventeen magazine, “I have nothing but happy memories of Cory. He wasn’t his addiction – unfortunately he won. But that wasn’t who he was. Cory made me feel like a queen every day. From the moment he said, ‘ I’m your boyfriend I loved every day, and I thank him for being the best friend and making me feel so beautiful.(The Broadway star’s legacy with the show has been clouded in recent years due to allegations that she contributed to a toxic work environment.)

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 08: Actor Cory Monteith and actress Lea Michele attend the 12th Annual Chrysalis Butterfly Ball on June 8, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)

Cory Monteith and actress Lea Michele attend the 12th Annual Chrysalis Butterfly Ball on June 8, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. It was their last public appearance. (Photo: Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)

Since Monteith’s death, there have been rumors of a “cheerfulness curse.” Fellow show stars Mark Salling died in 2018 (by suicide when he went to jail) and Naya Rivera drowned in 2020 (her body was found on the anniversary of Cory’s death). Earlier this year, a three-part docuseries called The price of cheerfulness looking at the death of the three young actors. Monteith’s former roommate shared that stardom wasn’t what it used to be, noting that he had issues with stalkers and seemed generally burnt out on fame.

While his cheerfulness fans – legions strong! – adored their Finn, Monteith was quick to point out that he didn’t have much in common with the McKinley High School football star, being a high school dropout himself.

“You see this young, all-American quarterback-looking dude on the show, and you just immediately make assumptions,” he said on George Stroumboulopoulos’ CBC show, This evening, in 2011. “And I think people really started to identify with me with those assumptions.”

Earlier this year, McHale said at the And that’s what you really missed pod he wished he gave Monteith his flowers while he was still here.

“What pisses me off is he was such a good actor and I don’t think we necessarily told him that enough,” McHale admitted. “The things we miss [on] seeing him do…”

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