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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, July 19, 2013 - Volume 41 Issue 29
Requiem for an ally - Glee's Cory Monteith dies of overdose at 31
Arts & Entertainment
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Requiem for an ally - Glee's Cory Monteith dies of overdose at 31

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Associate Editor

Corey Monteith, who skyrocketed to fame as high school hunk Finn Hudson on the popular TV series 'Glee,' was found dead Saturday afternoon in a hotel room in Vancouver, B.C., where he had spent the past week.

On July 16, the British Columbia Coroner's Service confirmed what many had feared - that Monteith died of an overdose of heroin and alcohol. He was 31 years old and his death is believed to have been accidental. Speculation that Monteith had overdosed began as soon as the star's death was reported by media. Monteith had been public about his battle with alcohol and drugs.

The character he played on Glee, Finn, made him a household name. However, Monteith was clear about the differences between his life and the character's.

'I'm not Finn Hudson,' he said in a 2011 interview with Parade magazine. 'I'm lucky on so many counts - I'm lucky to be alive.'

Moneith was referencing his past history with substance abuse, which he said included 'anything and everything, as much as possible. I had a serious problem.'

EARLY ADDICTION
He struggled after his parents' divorce when he was seven, and by 13 he was skipping school to drink and smoke pot, he told Parade. By the time he was 16, he had attended 12 different schools, dropped out of high school, and was using drugs constantly. He went to rehab when he was 19, after his family threatened to call the police when he stole a large sum of money from a relative.

His addictions resurfaced earlier this year and the actor checked himself into rehab in March. When he completed treatment a month later, he thanked his fans and supporters, which included girlfriend and co-star Lea Michele.

Although some of the actor's celebrity friends made statements that included speculation about a drug overdose, police would not say for sure. The only information released was that Monteith was found dead on July 13 around noon, when a member of the hotel staff went to check on him.

Monteith went out Friday night with a male friend and two female friends but returned to his hotel room alone around 2:15 a.m., Vancouver Police Constable Brian Montague told reporters at a press conference Tuesday afternoon.

Police interviewed Monteith's three companions and they were cooperative, Montague said, adding, 'This was an overdose and a tragic accident.' He confirmed that Monteith was alone when he died and that police believe the actor had been dead for several hours when he was found.

Foul play was ruled out because ' there was nothing suspicious or out of the ordinary - no signs of struggle or robbery - and there was evidence in the room that was consistent with a drug overdose,' Montague said.

Investigators don't know who supplied the drugs and they won't be investigating the case any further.

COLLEAGUES MOURN
Adam Shankman, who directed several episodes of Glee, had spoken to Monteith Saturday morning.

'I had several interactions with him yesterday where he said to me that he was feeling amazing, and he even said, 'I'm feeling fantastic again,' Shankman told CNN. 'So, like everybody else I am devastated and confused by what happened.'

In a statement, FOX network officials and the producers of Glee said, 'We are deeply saddened by this tragic news. Cory was an exceptional talent and an even more exceptional person.'

Representatives for his co-star and longtime girlfriend Lea Michele issued a statement on her behalf Tuesday afternoon saying, 'Lea is deeply grateful for all the love and support she's received from family, friends, and fans. Since Cory's passing, Lea has been grieving alongside his family and making appropriate arrangements with them. They are supporting each other as they endure this profound loss together. We continue to ask the media to respect the privacy of Lea and Cory's family.'

INSPIRATION TO YOUTH
In an interview on a Canadian talk show in 2011, Monteith said he had talked about his drug addiction and criminal behavior publicly because he hoped to inspire other teens going through similar challenges. He said he turned to drugs as a child because he didn't fit in and had no self-image.

'You see this young, all-American quarterback-looking dude on the show and you immediately made assumptions,' he said. 'I felt like I had to step in at some point and relate to people my experience and relate to people the truth of my life and where I come from ... If I can, through my experience shed light on the way out of a difficult situation ... that's huge.'

To stay sober, even as he became famous, Monteith said, 'I just try to do the next right thing. That's all I can say. When you have this whole fame thing, it seems like so many opportunities and there's so many opportunities to do the next wrong thing.'

To others fighting the same demons, Monteith offered this advice: 'Find something that inspires you. Find something that you can get excited about that will become your new direction.'

Monteith said acting was the thing that inspired him. The Canadian-born actor was due to begin filming season five of the popular FOX musical-comedy series in two weeks. There's no word yet on how writers will incorporate Monteith's death into the storyline.

PERSONAL EVOLUTION
Aside from being a star on a show that is credited with helping the younger generations become more accepting of LGBTQ relationships, Monteith was an outspoken ally for Gay civil rights.

Before joining the cast of Glee in 2009, he said, he knew nothing in particular about the Gay community or musical theater. After he learned to sing and dance he went on to become a vocal proponent for LGBT rights and marriage equality, appearing at the 2009 HRC National Dinner with Michele and other cast members Chris Colfer, Jane Lynch, and Amber Riley, as well as the 2012 GLAAD Awards. He added his voice to the Straight But Not Narrow campaign in 2011, an effort to encourage young straight guys to show support for young Gay guys.

In 2012, he spoke powerfully about his own Gay rights education, saying, 'Being aligned with Glee has absolutely made me more aware of it. It's one of the defining challenges at this point in our human evolution. This is the equivalent human rights struggle for our generation. We're going to look back 50 years from now and be shocked that this is what we're having to deal with.'

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