Canadian actor and singer Cory Monteith, known for his role as Finn Hudson in the television series “Glee,” died on Saturday at the age of 31:
The star was found dead in his 21st-floor room at the Fairmont Pacific Rim hotel in Vancouver, B.C., after missing his scheduled checkout time Sunday, the Vancouver police said in a statement. Authorities confirmed that there was no indication of foul play and that they think the actor was alone when he died. An autopsy is scheduled for Monday.
Reactions of shock, disbelief and condolence poured in Sunday from castmates, former co-stars and fans.
“I have no words! My heart is broken,” said Dot-Marie Jones, who plays coach Shannon Beiste on “Glee.” Cory was not only a hell of a friend . . . he was one amazing [man] that I will hold close to my heart forever.”. . .
“Glee’s” first season featured Finn’s fear of risking his social standing and budding sporting career by joining the school’s unpopular show choir — but the character grew to be a ringleader of the choir’s band of misfits, as well as righthand man to the group’s director. In the show’s most recent season, Monteith’s character returned to his alma mater to help coach his former club.
“I realize that this happens to an actor about once every 10 lifetimes,” Monteith told the Canadian newsmagazine Maclean’s in 2010 about being cast on “Glee,” “To be on a show that’s this good, it’s rarefied air.”
The actor said he drove to Los Angeles from Vancouver in 20 hours to audition for the part. “I slept on the side of the road in Oregon and learned all the songs to ‘Rent’ and Billy Joel’s greatest hits so I’d have something to audition with,” he told the Canadian Times Colonist.
Early on, “Glee” “auto-tuned” Monteith’s performances; in later seasons, thanks to his diligent improvement, he didn’t require such electronic manipulation. His first performance before a live audience was at the White House in 2010.
Monteith had struggled with drug addiction in the past:
A high school dropout from a broken home, the actor was neither a singer nor an athlete when cast as McKinley High’s crooning quarterback. . . He was also very open about the teenage drug problem that nearly killed him, telling Parade two years ago, “For those people who might give up: Get real about what you want and go after it. If I can, anyone can.”
Emily Yahr recalls Monteith’s performance in the series pilot:
Back in May 2009, Fox took the unique step of airing the pilot months before the show officially premiered in September, and “Glee” hype built until the fall. If you were to point to a reason why, it was likely because of the definitive performance of the pilot, and possibly the entire series: Monteith’s song with Lea Michele, as they closed out the episode with a dynamic duet of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’.”
The song played all summer, went platinum, and came to represent the show itself. It sent a triumphant message to the underdogs, which has always been “Glee’s” underlying theme — and why it initially connected with so many viewers.
Monteith, who played one of the lead roles as football player-turned glee club member Finn, was on the show for all four seasons (though took a short break when he went to rehab earlier this year). The series has had its ups and downs — but when Monteith was on screen, he was a reminder of its earnest, and best, early days.
Listen to Yahr’s favorite songs by Monteith here.