Glee tragedy: From Cory Monteith, Mark Salling and now, Naya Rivera | ‘Glee Curse’ Explainer


Following the announcement of new docuseries The Price of Glee, people are once again discussing the so-called ‘Glee Curse’.

Five cast and crew members from the show have died in unexpected circumstances over the last nine years, and the Disney+ documentary promises to investigate the deaths of stars Cory Monteith, Naya Rivera and Mark Salling.

Now, former castmate Kevin McHale has slammed the series, claiming none of the cast have had anything to do with its production.

Watch the trailer for the docuseries above.

Tragedy has followed the ‘Glee’ cast. (FOX)

In a fiery tweet, McHale, who hosts his own Glee-focussed podcast with former co-star Jenna Ushkowitz called And That’s What You REALLY Missed, called the series “trash”.

Re-tweeting a tweet by TV journalist Ashley Ray which read, “yes cast and crew are involved [in the series], no they are not comparing Naya [Rivera] and Cory [Monteith] to Mark [Salling] or making any similarity other than to say “they were all on the same show”.”

To this, Mchale wrote, “Show me this “cast” you speak of. This is [trash],” using a garbage bin emoji.

McHale, who played Artie Abrams on Glee, followed up the tweet with: “This was the nice version, [for the record]. Don’t make me speak on this again.”

Kevin McHale as Artie Abrams on Glee.
Kevin McHale played Artie Abrams on Glee. (Fox)

Naya Rivera, Cory Monteith and Mark Salling are the three Glee cast members who died after the TV show skyrocketed them to fame.

Monteith died in 2013 after an overdose, while Salling died in 2018 by suicide – six weeks before he was due to be imprisoned for possession of child pornography.

Rivera died in 2020 after a boating trip with her then-four-year-old son.

Naya Rivera as Santana Lopez on Glee.
Naya Rivera tragically died in an accidental drowning in 2020. (Fox)

She was believed to have been swimming with her son at Lake Piru in northwest Los Angeles when waters turned rocky. In the process of trying to save his life, she likely exhausted herself and drowned, police reported at the time.

McHale’s words about the upcoming docuseries come after a recent episode of his podcast which saw him remember Rivera, along with former Glee cast stars Heather Morris and Chris Colfer.

“It was really infuriating and also incredible to watch,” he said of Rivera’s singing and acting talent. “She was so good, just so good… it was a gift that we got to be around every single day.”

The controversial Disney+ series is slated to premiere on January 16, 2023. So far none of the former Glee cast have supported the project.

Mark Salling died in 2018.

Who from Glee has died?

In the last nine years, three members of the main Glee cast have died. Cory Monteith, who played footballer Finn Hudson, died in 2013. Mark Salling, who played Noah ‘Puck’ Puckerman, died in 2018, and Naya Rivera, aka Santana Lopez, died in 2020.

Two crew members from the show have also died. Assistant director Jim Filler passed away from heart failure in 2013, and production assistant Nancy Motes died by suicide in 2014. Her colleagues reportedly posted on Facebook: “We’ve lost another one.”

How did Cory Monteith die?

On July 13, 2013, Monteith’s body was found in a hotel room in Canada. His death was ruled as a heroin overdose, with traces of alcohol, codeine and morphine also found in his bloodstream.

The actor had a history of substance abuse from the age of 13. He entered rehab at the age of 19 at the request of his family and friends. In March 2013, a few months before his death, he voluntarily went back to rehab, after an intervention was held on the Glee set. He completed his treatment on April 26.

Lea Michele and Cory Monteith
Lea Michele and Cory Monteith were dating at the time of his death. (Getty)

This year, Glee co-creator Ryan Murphy revealed on the And That’s What You REALLY Missed podcast that he had been one of the cast and crew members who tried to help Monteith.

“I remember thinking like, ‘Oh my god, thank God he made it. Thank God he’s going to be okay’,” Murphy recalled of the moment Monteith completed his rehab treatment. “He came to Fire Island and he spent time with me. And I remember thinking, like, ‘Against all odds, he’s going to be okay.’

“And then two days later – three days later, he died.”

After his death, the coroner ruled his overdose an accident. Because Monteith had been clean for a few months, “a previously tolerated drug concentration level may become toxic and fatal”. He was 31 years old and had been dating Glee star Lea Michele at the time of his death.

How did Mark Salling die?

Salling died by suicide on January 30, 2018, after pleading guilty to possession of child pornography. In 2015, after a tip-off from an ex-girlfriend, the actor was arrested when police found more than 50,000 images of child pornography on his computer and hard drive. Following his trial, Salling pleaded guilty, and it was expected he would spend seven years in jail. He was found dead a month before his sentencing trial.

How did Naya Rivera die?

Rivera went missing while swimming with her son at Lake Piru, in California, on July 8 2020. Her son was found alive and well floating on a boat in the middle of the lake, with Rivera nowhere to be seen. After five days of searching, her body was recovered on July 13 — the seven year anniversary of Monteith’s death. She was 33.

Rivera died aged 33 while swimming in a lake known for having dangerous currents. (AP)

Is the ‘Glee Curse’ real?

No. A source who worked on the show recently commented on the so-called curse, telling the NY Post that it’s merely just a set of unfortunate circumstances.

“I don’t know if I would say it was cursed, but it’s unfortunate for most of them. The things that have happened with some of the cast… it’s very sad.”

Cast tributes

This year, Lea Michele paid tribute to Cory Monteith on the ninth anniversary of his death. The star would have been 40 this year.

Posting to her Instagram Story, Michele, 35, shared a very subtle tribute to Monteith, posting a throwback photo from their Glee days.

Lea Michele shares tribute to Cory Monteith on ninth anniversary of his death.
Michele shared a sweet photo of her and Monteith from their Glee days, that dates back to 2011. (Instagram / @leamichele)

The photo shared by Michele dates back to 2011, when Monteith and Michele were filming a scene for Glee in New York City.

Monteith, then 28, looks handsome in a suit and tie, while Michele beams up at him in a blue dress, holding a bouquet of flowers.

Michele dated Monteith off-screen from 2012 until he died unexpectedly on July 13, 2013, at the age of 31.

She has been married to businessman Zandy Reich since 2019, and the couple welcomed son Ever Leo in August 2020.

If you or anyone you know needs immediate support, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or visit lifeline.org.au. In an emergency, call 000.

Naya Rivera: Through the years





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