It was one of Hollywood’s cheeriest shows – a gaggle of high school misfits brought together by a love of performing, singing their way through their adolescent troubles and identity crises.
But the reality of Glee has anything but rosy as the young cast has battled a barrage of personal tragedies, run ins with the law and accusations of bullying and racism.
So much misfortune has hit the cast and crew that the show is now considered cursed within Hollywood circles – and it’s kind of hard to argue with the logic this week, as actress Naya Rivera’s body was discovered six days after she disappeared into a Californian lake – coincidentally, on the seventh anniversary of the death of co-star Cory Monteith.
‘Cursed’ TV shows have cropped up before, the Superman curse being the most notable – legend has it that tragedy will befall anyone who plays Superman on either television or in movies. And of course there’s the OG cursed medium, theatre, most notably Macbeth where it’s said the play was cursed by a coven of witches right from the get go.
But it’s Glee’s latest tragedy that has Hollywood reeling – and questioning how three of its young cast have died in the last seven years. Here’s a run down of all the tragedies that have befallen the show:
2013: Cory Monteith’s Death
The beginning of the Glee tragedy, fans of the show were shocked when its male lead Cory Monteith, who played loveable quarterback Finn Hudson, was found dead in a hotel room in Canada after accidentally overdosing on heroin.
Cory had battled drug addiction since the age of 13, and had just completed a rehab stint when he was found unresponsive after mixing the lethal drug with alcohol.
Cory’s death at the age of 31 caused shockwaves in Hollywood, with his both on-screen and real-life love interest Lea Michele inconsolable over his passing.
“There are some who bring a light so great to the world, that even after they are gone, the light remains,” she wrote on her Instagram account of Cory’s passing.
2014: Production Assistant Nancy Motes’ Suicide
A well-liked member of the crew, the cast were plunged further into grief when Nancy Motes, the sister of Julia Roberts, took her own life after drowning in a bath. In her suicide note, she claimed that Julia had caused her untold grief and that she “drove me in the deepest depression I’ve ever been in”, and described Julia as a “so-called sibling.”
2015 – 2018: Mark Sailing’s Arrest for Child Pornography and Suicide
He played bad boy Noah Puckerman on the show, but Mark Sailing’s behaviour in his private life was worse than anyone could have guessed. In 2015 authorities found 50,000 images and 600 videos of pre-pubescent girls, in what was described as the “worst pornography collection the nation has seen”.
Mark was convicted in 2017 and was facing a lengthy stint behind bars when he was found dead in 2018 after taking his own life.
His ex-girlfriend Naya said she wasn’t surprised at the news.
“I can’t say I was totally shocked,” she said in her 2016 memoir. “When Mark dumped me, I thought it was the worst thing ever, but can you imagine if that didn’t happen… and I was laying there in bed when the battering ram came through the door?”
Despite his shocking predilection, the cast still mourned the death of their former colleague, with several referring to him as a ‘broken man’ and claiming that he’d been a victim of abuse himself.
2020: Lea Michele’s Alleged Bullying
Lea Michele has always been known for her slight diva tendencies, but the extent of her on-set bullying came to light earlier this year during the Black Lives Matter movement.
Glee co-star Samantha Ware alleged Lea’s crusade of “traumatic micro-aggressions” were horrific, with the star threatening to ‘shit in [Samantha’s] wig’ after apparently feeling threatened by the newcomer.
Samatha’s accusations were quickly backed up by their co-stars, with Heather Morris, who played dim-witted cheerleader Brittany Pierce, agreeing that Lea’s behaviour was awful.
Lea, who lost a high-profile endorsement deal with Hello Fresh over the scandal, apologised and said she would learn from her mistakes, especially as she is now expecting her first child.
2020: Naya Rivera’s Death
Exactly seven years to the day Cory’s body was discovered, Naya’s body was finally found in the Californian lake that claimed her life after six days of searching. The star, who played cheerleader Santana Lopez on Glee, never returned from a day out on Lake Piru with her four-year-old son Josey. He was found sleeping alone on the pontoon boat Naya had hired, with the alarm raised three hours after CCTV cameras had captured the mum and son embarking on their trip.
Thanks to poor visibility in the lake, Naya was only found six days after disappearing, in which time her cast mates had prayed for her safe return.