Writing the obituary of someone who has died after a long life and fulfilling career is difficult; but when the subject dies young, the spectre of tragedy is cast that much longer. Cory Monteith, best known for his work on Glee, was just 31.
Raised in Calgary, Canada, Cory Allan Michael Monteith caught the bug for performing at an early age, but didn’t necessarily consider an acting career until a casting director spotted him. He dropped out of the school in his mid-teens and began working odd jobs while playing the drums in a local band.
Once his acting career was up and running, however, he threw himself into the work, moving to Vancouver to appear in the likes of Stargate Atlantis, Supernatural, Smallville and Kyle XY. Cinematically, he was cast in such films as White Noise 2: The Light, Final Destination 3 and Bloody Mary. "I call myself a working-class actor," he later told The Toronto Star. "You know, you go from one one-line gig to the next one-line gig, to a couple of episodes on this show, a couple of episodes on that show, to a small part in a movie… I was making a good living. But it really wasn't a life."
His life was to change radically, however, in 2009 when, after sending the producers a tape of himself playing drums, he was cast as jock-turned-tune-belter Finn Hudson in Glee. As the show’s popularity exploded, Monteith and his castmates become big stars, playing live concerts between seasons as household names.
But the sudden rise to fame didn’t always help Monteith’s life: he’d struggled with substance abuse since his teen years and earlier this year voluntarily entered a treatment facility. He appeared in good spirits after completing the programme, and had been dating co-star Lea Michele. He'd also worked on a couple of indepedent films during his hiatus from the show.
His body was discovered at the Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel in Vancouver on Saturday. “Cory was the epitome of joy,” recurring co-star Stephen Tobolowsky wrote on Twitter. Always a smile. Tireless as a performer. Could always make you laugh even on a hard day.”
He’s survived by his parents and older Shaun. Our thoughts are with his family.