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Cory Monteith: An ‘Enduring Sweetness’ on Glee

15 Jul

Cory Monteith arrived in our homes in 2009 in a happy burst of music, color and youth called Glee.

The news of his death in a Vancouver hotel room comes with the shock of someone dying at only age 31 (he seemed more like 22) – and also with the realization that he takes with him that music, color and youth.

Monteith was Finn Hudson, tall, handsome in a clean, square way. He looked like an old-fashioned teenage dreamboat dropped down in a school so up-to-the-minute in its heterogeneous mix he might have seemed out of place – like Ronald Reagan turning up in his brown suit to audition for the annual musical (Rent, say).

PHOTOS: Cory Monteith’s Hollywood Life

But Monteith had an open-faced quality that revealed, or betrayed, whatever emotion he was feeling (or singing) at the moment. He had an earnestness, an awkwardness, a sincerity that gave him a certain rawness – and an enduring sweetness.

The other performers on Glee tend to have the shiny, expert confidence that we want (and need) of a show that expects its characters to burst into song. Monteith never had quite that same edge: His definition was softer. He moved through the corridors of McKinley High at a slightly different lope, and that all lingers in the mind.

At least that’s how Monteith strikes me now – perhaps I’d already begun to adjust my ideas about him after he entered rehab earlier this year for substance abuse. These shadows filter into your perceptions, especially your perceptions of an actor still so early in his career – and associated with a show as bright as Glee.

Miss him already.

PHOTOS: Cory & Lea: Their Love Story
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EARLIER: Cory Monteith, 31, Found Dead in Hotel Room
FLASHBACK: Watch His Glee Audition Tape

Cory Monteith’s 11 Best Glee Performances

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