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LOS ANGELES — 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.”
He was pictured in magazines that month smiling and vacationing with longtime girlfriend and Glee co-star 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 co-stars 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, British Columbia, after he failed to check out as scheduled.
Police said there seemed to be no evidence of foul play. An autopsy was planned for Monday to determine the cause of death.
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.
Monteith had not appeared in the final episodes of the fourth season last spring because of his rehab stint.
He was one of the key attractions of Glee, which launched with a splash in 2009. 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.
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 in Victoria, British Columbia.
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.”
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.