The Canadian actor Corey Haim achieved fame when he starred in the tale of teenage vampires in California, The Lost Boys (1987), which established the tousle-haired, lanky young man with a cheeky grin as a teen heart-throb.
Other starring roles followed, including several with his namesake, Corey Feldman. But Haim, who first appeared on television when he was only 10 years old, was to join the growing list of teenage stars who find it difficult to cope with the pressures of stardom and turn to drugs. Addiction was to have a devastating effect on his career, and at the age of 26, after recovering from a drug-induced stroke, he filed for bankruptcy, with tax debts of over $200,000 plus heavy medical bills. Recently, his career seemed to be reviving, with cameo roles in the sequel, Lost Boys: The Tribe (2008) and Crank: High Voltage (2009), plus roles in Shark City (both 2009), and several films that are still awaiting release.
Born in Toronto in 1971 to a French-Canadian father who worked as a salesman and an Israeli mother who was a computer operator, he was enrolled in drama school as a child by his mother, who thought it would help him deal with his acute shyness. His parents' 18-year marriage ended in divorce in 1982, when Haim was 11. He had started appearing in television commercials the previous year, and in 1982 he won his first professional job as an actor, a recurring role in a television comedy series aimed at a family audience, The Edison Twins.
His first feature film was Firstborn (1984), as one of two sons being raised by a widow (Terri Garr) who disrupts their life when she introduces a brutish boyfriend into the household. Though the cast included Sarah Jessica Parker and Robert Downey Jr., it was not widely seen.
Haim also had small roles in Secret Admirer and Murphy's Romance (both 1985), playing the 12-year old son of divorcee Sally Field in the latter, before gaining his first leading part, as a paraplegic youth in a version of Stephen King's novella, Silver Bullet (1985), co-starring Gary Busey, but it was one of King's more risible tales of a town terrorised by a werewolf. The following year his touching performance as Liza Minnelli's dying son in a television film, A Time to Live, won him plaudits and a Young Artist of the Year Award.
He won more fine reviews as the top-billed star of David Seltzer's Lucas (1986), a beguiling tale of a lovelorn 14-year-old's passion for a new girl in town. The critic Roger Ebert wrote, "If he can continue to act this well, he will never become a half-forgotten child star". Co-starring Charlie Sheen and Winona Ryder (in her screen debut), the film was particularly liked by young audiences, who praised it as an unusually accurate insight into teen psychology. Haim's performance brought him a strong fan base, and created his image as a teen pin-up, a status confirmed by his performance in Joel Schumacher's tale of teenage vampires, The Lost Boys (1987), which was disliked by critics but embraced by the young admirers of Haim and his youthful co-stars, including Kiefer Sutherland and Corey Feldman. Haim was to make several films with Feldman, who became a close friend, and at the height of their fame they were known as "The Two Coreys".
Haim later confessed that it was during the shooting of The Lost Boys that he smoked his first joint, adding that, "I did cocaine for about a year and a half, then it led to crack." Among the films in which he and Feldman co-starred were two raucous but popular comedies, Licence to Drive (1988) and Dream a Little Dream (1989), the latter featuring the hit song, "Rock On" – Haim and Feldman appeared in the music video promoting the recording by Michael Damian.
Haim's other films included a ludicrous adaptation of Dean R. Koontz's Watchers (1988), in which Haim and a super-intelligent dog (the product of military research) are pursued by an uncommonly preposterous monster, and Prayer of the Rollerboys (1991) in which Haim, working undercover, joins a gang of racist thugs to expose their leader, who just might be Hitler's great-grandson. Most of his films for the rest of the decade were made as straight-to-video titles, the size of his roles diminishing as his drug use affected his performances and his behaviour. (In 1995 he auditioned unsuccessfully for the role of Dick Grayson/Robin in Batman Forever.)
After his bankruptcy hearing he returned to acting with another television film, Without Malice (2000), then entered a rehabilitation clinic, after which he was put on prescription drugs, taking both sedatives and stimulants. "One led to two," he said, "two led to four, four led to eight, until at the end it was 85 a day...and that was just the valium. I ruined myself to the point where I wasn't functional to work with anybody, even myself." In 2004 he was the subject of a hit song by the Irish band The Thrills titled, "Whatever Happened to Corey Haim?"
Though he worked occasionally, his major comeback attempt came in 2007 when he co-starred with Feldman in a TV reality series, The Two Coreys, which prompted critic Robert Lloyd to write, "The premise seems to be this: Corey (Feldman) and his wife, Susie, have welcomed Corey (Haim) into their home in order to make a television show about, um, welcoming Corey Haim into their home... This arrangement supposedly has something to do with helping Corey H. get his career/life back on track – clearly we're to regard him, and with some cause, as the more troubled of the two."
The show started a second season in June 2008, but was cancelled a month later, Feldman stating that Haim's drug abuse had strained their relationship and that he would not associate with him again "unless he gets the help he truly needs."
Corey Haim, actor: born Toronto, Canada 23 December 1971; died: Burbank, California 10 March 2010.