I have a confession to make, one that I have rarely, if ever, made in public.
I am a Gleek.
The TV program, Glee is one of my guilty pleasures. Perhaps it was because I once had aspirations of becoming a music teacher. Perhaps it was because I too was a misfit in high school. Or, perhaps it was just because I love the music, the characters and the stories that keep me tuning in every week.
So, like millions of fans around the world, I too was shocked and saddened to learn of Cory Monteith’s death, which happened last Saturday, July 13 in his hotel room in Vancouver. His death was completely unexpected and has rocked the entertainment world.
Cory, 31, played the tall and loveable Finn Hudson, a football player with two left feet and a set of golden vocal pipes. According to all reports, Cory was equally loveable in real life, a true gentleman and a huge talent, whose star was just beginning to shine. He appeared to be one of the few major celebrities who no one had anything bad to say.
Many media outlets immediately speculated that Cory’s death was caused by a drug overdose. There was definitely some substance for that conclusion, as Cory had a documented history with alcohol and drug addiction since his early teens. He entered rehab when he was 19 and then again earlier this year with the public support of his fans and Lea Michele, who plays Rachel Barry on Glee and was his girlfriend both onscreen and off.
On Tuesday, July 16, the B.C. Coroner’s Service announced that Cory’s death was indeed caused by “a mixed drug toxicity, involving heroin and alcohol.”
Cory and Lea were reported to be getting married in a couple of weeks. Glee was Cory’s big break and he had 2 films in post-production and millions of adoring fans of all ages and genders. He had everything going for him: looks, talent, a beautiful partner, and success.
What happened? How did Cory become another young star to fall victim to his demons?
Artists are sensitive people by nature. It’s that sensitivity from where the creations and music are drawn from. As a result, things that happen in life can have a more profound effect. Cory’s addiction issues started after the divorce of his parents, an event that affects children even in the most amicable of situations, but in Cory’s case was apparently scarring.
Then, there are the pressures of success. The pressure to perform, to be “on,” to live up to the expectations of fans. For someone who is a gentle, kind, humble person, this can be overwhelming. While Cory seemed to be a young man who had it all together, we never truly knew what was going on in someone’s life or head despite outward appearances.
Finally, there is the obvious: Success and money gives one access to pretty much anything. Cory would have had easy access to his poison(s) of choice and the means by which to afford them.
We all have demons, and in the end no matter how famous, rich, or talented someone is we’re all human and subject to the same frailties. The fact he was a major celebrity could not protect Cory from the disease of addiction.
And while the heartbreak is still raw, fans can try to take comfort in that Cory’s talent was a gift that he was lucky enough to share with others and we were blessed to receive it. His acting and music will live on with the many audio recordings, performance DVDs and TV episodes already in existence. We will never know just how huge Cory’s impact would have been in the world of entertainment in the long run, but we can honour his memory by living our lives to the fullest and embracing our talents through which we can bring joy to others – just like Cory did.