The stars of the hit Fox musical comedy, which ran for six seasons between 2009 and 2015, were quick to pay tribute to their late co-star, who played Santana Lopez since the show's debut. "Glee" co-creators Ryan Murphy, Ian Brennan and Brad Falchuk even announced that they will start a college fund for Rivera’s son. Unfortunately, this is far from the first time that the “Glee” cast has endured the loss of one of their stars.
In 2013, while the show was still on the air, Cory Monteith was found dead in a Vancouver hotel room. The actor played one of the key leads on the show, Finn Hudson, and was dating co-star Lea Michele at the time both on the show and in real-life. The cause of death was ultimately ruled an overdose of heroin and alcohol. Monteith had been open in the past about his past struggles with substance abuse, but the news still came as a shock to both fans and the cast.
Cory Monteith died in July 2013 from a drug overdose. (Reuters)
"He was very special to me and also to the world and we were very lucky to witness his incredible talent, his handsome smile, and his beautiful, beautiful heart,” Michele said shortly after his death. “So, whether you knew him personally or just as 'Finn Hudson,' Cory reached out and he became a part of all of our hearts and that's where he'll stay forever. So, thank you guys so much. Thank you."
Because the show was still airing, the characters on “Glee” were forced to address the absence of one of the character. At the time, the show opted to explain that Finn died, but never gave a reason for how the character met his end.
"That doesn't matter," said Kurt, played by Chris Colfer in the episode titled "The Quarterback,” which was set three weeks after the character's death and saw the other members of the Glee Club deal with the loss of their friend in individual ways.
After the show ended, both the cast and fans were rocked once again after it came to light that Mark Salling, who played Noah “Puck” Puckerman on the show, pleaded guilty in 2017 to possession of child pornography. He was set to be sentenced on March 7, 2018 and was facing four to seven years behind bars. However, Salling’s body was found in California’s Tujunga-Sunland area in January. He died of an apparent suicide by hanging.
"I can confirm that Mark Salling passed away early this morning. Mark was a gentle and loving person, a person of great creativity, who was doing his best to atone for some serious mistakes and errors of judgment," Salling's attorney Michael Proctor told Fox News at the time.
‘Glee’ actor Mark Salling died by suicide in 2018. (Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP, File)
"[I'll remember him] as the guy who made that really sweet video in the beginning of 'Glee' when he was so happy to be a part of this group," said “Glee” actress Jane Lynch told TMZ at the time of Salling’s death.
Rivera dated Salling during their time on the show. She commented on his child pornography charges in her book “Sorry Not Sorry.”
"I can't say I was totally shocked, but still–WTF?" Rivera wrote of Salling in her book. "My son's nanny actually told me about it when the story broke. Then I had no doubt that God really did have my back along the way."
Now, the “Glee” community is in mourning once again after it was confirmed that Rivera died in an accidental drowning incident.
Rivera was the subject of a massive search effort led by the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office after she rented a pontoon boat with her 4-year-old son, Josey, and went missing. Police confirmed on Monday that a body had been found at the northeast corner of Lake Piru. Hours later at a press conference, authorities said they were "confident" it was the former "Glee" star and informed the public that there is evidence to support the theory that Rivera died saving her son.
Actress Naya Rivera died of in an accidental drowning incident in 2020. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, File)
The actress is perhaps best known for her role on “Glee” where she played one of the show’s many LGBTQ characters with one of the sharpest tongues at William McKinley High School. As her life progressed past the show’s 2015 finale, she remained close with her castmates and summed up her experience with the show in her 2016 memoir.
“It would be an understatement to say that ‘Glee’ changed my life. It overhauled it. It got me out of debt. It helped to cement my career. And before the show, I’d never had a group of people I was that close with,” Rivera wrote.