The Inside Stories Of Three 'Glee’ Stars' Sudden Deaths

Actors Cory Monteith, Mark Salling, and Naya Rivera were all in their 30s when they died under varying circumstances.

January 03, 2023
Actor Cory Monteith arrives at the 18th Annual Critics' Choice Movie Awards at The Barker Hangar on January 10, 2013 in Santa Monica, California.

Actors Cory Monteith, Mark Salling, and Naya Rivera were all in their 30s when they died under varying circumstances.

Photo by: Steve Granitz via Getty Images

Steve Granitz via Getty Images

By: Aaron Rasmussen

From 2009 to 2015, the series Glee was a hit with fans following the onscreen lives of a group of students performing in their high school’s choir club. While the musical comedy was fun to watch on television, in real life, several of its stars were met with tragic ends. Ahead are the circumstances surrounding the deaths of Cory Monteith, Mark Salling, and Naya Rivera.

Cory Monteith

March 2013

Cory Monteith checks into a treatment facility to battle substance abuse. In a 2011 interview with Parade, Monteith admitted he once had “a serious problem” and used to do “anything and everything as much as possible.” He noted he first started using drugs when he was 13 and did his first stint in rehab at 19. “I was out of control,” he said of his early years fighting addiction.

July 13, 2013

The actor, who portrayed football player Finn Hudson on Glee, is found dead at age 31 in his room at the Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Authorities learn Monteith checked into the lodge a week earlier and had returned to his room alone just hours before his body was discovered, CNN reported at the time. An autopsy determines his death was the result of an accidental overdose involving alcohol and heroin, according to US Weekly.

In January 2013, six months before he died, Monteith’s girlfriend and costar, Lea Michele, opened up to Marie Claire about their relationship. “For the first time in my life, I feel really, really settled and happy,” she said. “I feel like the luckiest girl in the world.”

The actress was devastated by Monteith’s sudden death and she reportedly was unaware he had relapsed. “We talked about a lot of things,” she revealed to Glamour UK the year after he overdosed. “We talked about children and what we would look like when we grew old, and who would be fat and how we would stay thin. We talked about where we wanted to go and what we wanted to do. We were done. We were it.”

Mark Salling

December 2015

Officers arrest Mark Salling after the LAPD’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force executes a search warrant at the actor’s residence in Sunland, California.

May 2016

Salling, who played Noah “Puck” Puckerman on Glee, is charged with the crime of receiving and possessing child pornography.

October 2017

The actor accepts a plea deal, agreeing detectives serving the search warrant the previous year at his home discovered over 50,000 images of child pornography that he had on a flash memory drive and computer, USA Today reported.

January 30, 2018

Salling hangs himself in a remote riverbed in Big Tujunga Canyon, Los Angeles, and his death is ruled a suicide days later. The 35-year-old former Glee actor was facing sentencing that March in the possession of child pornography case. Prosecutors were seeking a sentence of four to seven years behind bars.

Naya Rivera

July 8, 2020

What should be a fun outing for Naya Rivera — the actress who played Glee character Santana Lopez — and her 4-year-old son, Josey, on Lake Piru in Ventura County, California, turns to tragedy.

According to an investigative report obtained by People, Rivera’s then 4-year-old son, Josey, said he and his mother counted to three and jumped into the water together off their rented pontoon. Josey said his mother then told him to get out of the water. “She helped him onto the boat and then he then heard [Naya] yell ‘help’ and she put her arm in the air. She then disappeared into the water,” the report states.

The document notes Rivera, who was a good swimmer, suffered vertigo, which “would get worse when she was in the water” but the star could “control the symptoms with antihistamines.”

July 13, 2020

After an extensive search, the Ventura County Sheriff's Office announces Rivera’s body was located in the lake. An autopsy determines 33-year-old Rivera’s died as the result of accidental drowning.

For more on the tragedies behind the cultural phenomenon and hit musical series, stream the The Price of Glee on discovery+.

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