Inside The 'Glee' Curse: Naya Rivera, Cory Monteith, Mark Salling's Sudden Deaths & Other Shocking Tragedies
During its heyday, Glee was considered an uplifting, fun-loving show filled with musical high school students. But, behind the scenes, there was nothing but doom and gloom following a cast seemingly struck by the curse of TV's cheeriest show.
Rumors of a Glee curse came amid multiple dark tragedies that plagued the cast — including three stars who died following tragic accidents and suicides. While the actors knew how to put on a performance in front of the cameras, many were drinking, doing drugs, getting arrested and struggling with their mental health behind closed doors.
“They did a lot of things in hiding that nobody knew about,” an insider who worked on the series — which aired from 2009-2015 — claimed. “During our lunch breaks, they’d go off and go drink while they were working and then come back.”
The source admitted that the Glee-ful series was overshadowed by the troubled stars' dark controversies. "I don’t know if I would say it was cursed, but it’s unfortunate for most of them," the insider told the New York Post. "The things that have happened with some of the cast . . . it’s very sad."
Naya Rivera, who played Santana Lopez on the former Fox show, was the latest to succumb to the alleged curse after she went missing last July while boating with 5-year-old son Josey. The late actress' body was found five days later, with the official autopsy confirming that her cause of death was a drowning.
At the time, Rivera, who died at the age of 33, went for a swim with her son in Lake Piru in California. Though she was able to save her little boy and put him safely back onto the pontoon, she was unable to lift herself up. The heroic mama was presumed dead when Josey was found alone on the boat three hours after Rivera took him out on the lake.
The mother-of-one also found herself in legal trouble after she was arrested in 2017 for allegedly hitting her ex-husband Ryan Dorsey, with whom she shares Josey. The charges were dropped the following year, and the two divorced.
Rivera's sudden death was the latest dark tale from the beloved singing series. On January 20, 2018, Mark Salling — who portrayed Noah “Puck” Puckerman — was found dead from suicide by hanging shortly before he was set to be sentenced on child pornography charges. He was 35 years old when he took his life.
In 2017, Salling pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography following his 2015 arrest. According to documents, Salling — who dated Rivera from 2007 to 2010 — downloaded, and tried to conceal, over 50,000 images and 600 videos that showed young girls, with some as young as three years old, being raped, per Daily Mail.
Salling had reportedly tried to kill himself once before in 2017 by slashing his wrists. He was then treated for psychological problems, according to the outlet. Salling was also previously sued by ex-girlfriend Roxanne Gorzela for sexual battery, as she reportedly accused the late actor of forcing her to have unprotected sex without consent.
In what was deemed as the beginning of the show's demise, Cory Monteith, who played Finn Hudson, was found dead on July 13, 2013, in a Canadian hotel room after consuming a deadly cocktail of heroin and alcohol. Monteith, who checked into rehab for the third time four months before his death, was dating costar Lea Michele at the time.
“He wasn’t ready for the Hollywood world,” Monteith's mom Ann McGregor told E! Online of her son, who died at 31. “Drugs were his way of checking out.”
In addition to the deaths of the main cast members, actors with minor roles on the show also faced dark chapters in their lives. While talking to Oprah Winfrey during the 2014 Where Are They Now special, Charice Pempengco — who played a singer so talented that she became a rival to Michele's Rachel Berry — admitted that she had once thought about killing herself.
Through tears, Pempengco explained that her world came crashing down after her abusive father was murdered, per Daily Mail. She was also facing the struggle of coming out as gay at the time.
While addressing rumors that she once slashed her wrists to try and end her life at the age of 22, Pempengco told Winfrey that she certainly thought about doing it, but never actually did.
Meanwhile, Demi Lovato — who came out as nonbinary in May and played Rivera's on-screen girlfriend — has also faced multiple dark times in their life. They previously suffered three strokes and a heart attack following their almost fatal overdose in 2018. The "Sober" singer has been very open about their mental health struggles, including battles with substance abuse, bulimia and bipolar disorder.