Cory Monteith, who was found dead in a hotel room in Vancouver on Saturday, was an actor who shot to fame in the hit television series Glee but was beset by addiction struggles so fierce that in 2011 he said he was lucky to be alive. He was 31; police said there was no indication of foul play.
In April this year Monteith, who played Finn Hudson in the series about a high school glee club, checked himself into a treatment facility for substance addiction and asked for privacy as he took steps toward recovery. Lea Michele, his real-life girlfriend and Glee co-star, said she loved and supported him and was proud he was seeking help.
It was not his first time in rehab. He received treatment when he was 19 and had talked about his addiction struggles, saying he had a serious problem and took “anything and everything.”
Monteith starred in Glee as a high school football player who puts his status and popularity at risk to join the glee club and its outcast members. Monteith was one of the cast who remained series regulars as their characters graduated from high school and moved on to other adventures.
The show, with its song-and-dance numbers and high-profile guest stars including Gwyneth Paltrow, became an immediate hit and made stars of its relatively unknown cast. Set in the small town of Lima, Ohio, and first broadcast in 2009, it is in its fourth season in the US.
On his Twitter account Monteith described himself as “tall, awkward, canadian, actor, drummer, person.” In an interview he gave in 2010 he was upbeat about life. He said that if Glee were to be cancelled he would be OK. “I’ve never been afraid of working,” he said. “I’ve never been afraid of auditioning for jobs. Obviously, I’ve never been afraid of anonymity. I was happy [before Glee]. I’m happy now. I guess I’m well adjusted.”
Monteith was born in Calgary, Alberta, and moved to Vancouver Island as a child. He was the youngest son of Ann McGregor, an interior decorator, and Joe Monteith, a soldier who served in the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry. His parents divorced when he was seven, and he and his older brother were raised by their mother in British Columbia. Dealing with the intermittent absence of his father, and, he recalled, feeling like an outsider among his peers, he had a troubled adolescence; once a promising student, he began drinking and taking drugs.
He attended 16 different schools, eventually leaving altogether at 16. By that time, his addictions had increased and he turned to petty crimes such as stealing money from friends and family. The turning point came when his mother and a group of friends staged an intervention, and he was sent to rehab at 19. Before turning to acting he held a variety of jobs including a greeter in Wal-Mart, school bus driver, roofer and cab driver.
Monteith’s TV credits included roles in the series Kaya and Kyle XY and guest appearances on Smallville, Supernatural, Stargate, Flash Gordon and Interns. His film credits included Final Destination 3, The Invisible, Deck the Halls and Whisper.
Glee was his breakthrough role. A large part of the show was his character’s on-off romance with glee club star Rachel Berry, an aspiring entertainer played by Lea Michele. In recent episodes of the series, Rachel had gone off to attend college in New York while Finn stayed in Lima, where he worked at his father’s car repair shop and became involved in helping lead his former school’s glee club.
“I have no words! My heart is broken,” Dot-Marie Jones, who plays the football coach Shannon Beiste in Glee, said in a Twitter post. She called Monteith a “hell of a friend” and an “amazing” man. In a statement Fox and the producers of Glee called him an exceptional performer “and an even more exceptional person. He was a true joy to work with and we will all miss him tremendously.”
Cory Allan Michael Monteith, actor: born Calgary, Alberta 11 May 1982; died 13 July 2013.