By Greg Braxton and Yvonne Villarreal
6:19 PM EDT, July 14, 2013
Cory Monteith appeared a few months ago as if he was truly looking forward to the future, having finally put behind him the demons of substance abuse that had plagued him since he was a youth.
"Sending out my love to everyone," the "Glee" star said in a late April tweet to fans following a monthlong stint in rehab. "Thank you for the continued support. It means the world to me." The tweet ended with a smiley face.
He was pictured in magazines that month smiling and vacationing with longtime girlfriend and "Glee" costar Lea Michele, who had proclaimed her steadfast support for Monteith through his struggles. And he was planning to return to "Glee," the television show that had made him a heartthrob for fans known as "Gleeks."
Monteith's apparent happiness and turnaround made the news of his death even more shocking to costars and fans. The body of the 31-year-old actor was discovered Saturday shortly after noon in a room at the Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel in downtown Vancouver after he failed to check out as scheduled.
Police noted there seemed to be no evidence of foul play and said an autopsy was planned for Monday to determine the cause of death.
Monteith had been staying at the hotel since July 6, and hotel security records indicated he had returned to his room in the early-morning hours of Saturday and was believed to have been alone at the time of his death.
"OMG!! My Cory..." tweeted Iqbal Theba, who plays Principal Figgins on the Fox series, which will be entering its fifth season this fall. Dot-Marie Jones, who plays Coach Shannon Bieste, tweeted, "I have no words! My heart is broken. Cory was not only a hell of a friend he was one amazing [man] that I will hold close to my heart forever."
Representatives for Michele, who recently has been putting the final touches on her debut album, released a statement Sunday: "We ask that everyone kindly respect Lea's privacy during this devastating time."
How Monteith's death will affect the series, which revolves around graduates and present members of a high-school choir filled with an odd collection of characters whose love of performing brings them both pleasure and pain, remained uncertain Sunday. Executive producers and executives at 20th Century Fox Television and the Fox network had not had any discussion about how the sudden death would affect the show, according to a source close to production.
Monteith had not appeared in the final episodes of the fourth season last spring due to his rehab stint.
He was one of the key attractions of "Glee," which launched with a splash in 2009, becoming an overnight sensation with its catchy renditions of popular tunes and Broadway standards. Monteith played Finn Hudson, a somewhat-clueless but kind-hearted jock who had a love for singing — and for exuberant singing star Rachel Berry (Michele).
At the height in the second season, the series was averaging more than 10 million viewers a week. But by its third season,"Glee" couldn’t hit the high notes quite like it used to. The latest season averaged 8.7 million viewers on Thursday nights.
Through the show's ups and downs, the fresh-faced Monteith had always displayed a public air of excitement and frequent awe over his fame and popularity. But he was also open about his substance-abuse problems, which dated to when he was a youngster growing up in Victoria, Canada.
His parents divorced when he was 7, and Monteith lived with his mother. In an interview with Parade magazine in 2011, he said that by the age of 13 he was skipping school to get drunk and smoke pot. By age 16, he had tried "anything and everything, as much as possible. I had a serious problem." He attended 12 different schools, including alternative schools for troubled teens.
His family staged an intervention when he was 19, and he went to rehab. "But then I went back to doing exactly what I left off doing." Stealing money from a family member proved to be a turning point. He moved in with a family friend in Nanaimo, a small city in Canada, quit using drugs and got a job as a roofer.
Monteith began taking acting classes and working with a coach. He had bit parts on "Smallville" and "Final Destination" early in his career. A recurring role in "Kyle XY" in 2006 and 2007 was his most prominent TV part before "Glee."
He wasn't exactly a natural fit for the musical show. Creator Ryan Murphy wanted to cast young people who could act, sing and dance. Monteith didn't consider himself a "triple threat," so he sent in an audition tape of him playing "the drums" on Tupperware.
When Murphy requested another tape of him singing, Monteith obliged with what he called a cheesy rendition of the REO Speedwagon '80s classic "Can't Fight This Feeling." He got the job.
In a 2009 TV interview in Canada, Monteith said he didn't know if he would be typecast due to his "Glee" role or what the future had in store for him. He indicated that he wanted to keep acting and work hard, and believed the rest would follow.
"I don't know what's going to happen tomorrow," he said.
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