How the 'Glee' Cast Has Dealt With Unimaginable Tragedy and Scandal

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Glee fans were devastated on Monday, when police confirmed that Naya Rivera's body has been found after she was reported missing last Wednesday after taking a boat ride in Lake Piru in California with her 4-year-old son, Josey. Although as Glee fans know, Rivera's death isn't the first heartbreaking incident that the cast has been hit with over the years. Monday also marked the 7-year death anniversary of Cory Monteith, who died suddenly in 2013 while the show was still filming.

Glee was a smash success on Fox when it debuted in 2009 and made stars out of the show's young cast -- which aside from Rivera and Monteith, included Lea Michele, Darren Criss, Amber Riley, Chord Overstreet and more -- before going off the air in 2015. Over the years, the cast has dealt with devastating deaths and scandals. Read on for more of the shocking events that have occurred:

Cory Monteith's death:

Cory Monteith at 12th Annual Chrysalis Butterfly Ball
Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

Monteith played the lovable jock Finn Hudson on Glee and had an on-screen, off-screen relationship with Michele, who played the show's main character, Rachel Berry. On July 13, 2013, fans were stunned when the Canadian actor was found dead in his room at the Fairmont Pacific Rim hotel in downtown Vancouver, British Columbia. The BC Coroners Service later determined that he died from a mixed drug toxicity, involving heroin and alcohol.

He was just 31 years old.

In a 2011 interview with Parade, Monteith was candid about his struggles with drug and alcohol addiction, and said he was "out of control" by the time he was 16.

"Anything and everything, as much as possible," he told the magazine about his substance abuse. "I had a serious problem."

"I really got to know myself through a lot of that self-destruction," he continued. "I had to go very deep into myself and rebuild a lot of what I had taken apart, and that process is strengthening, that process is grounding. That doesn't go away. That’s the foundation this is all built on now, and I feel stable. I feel happy. I like myself. I love my job. It just so happens that I fell into doing something that I enjoy -- the drums and the music and acting and all that stuff. I love it. I love it a lot."

Still, his struggles continued. In March of 2013, Monteith disclosed that he was seeking treatment for substance addiction. Three months later, he died.

Following Monteith's death, a rep for 20th Century Fox Television told ET that the cast of Glee held a private memorial for their late co-star. The rep shared that show co-creator Ryan Murphy and Michele "gathered the cast, crew and producers of Glee, along with colleagues from the network and studio, to share memories and music in an emotional celebration of the life of Cory Monteith."

The show also aired a video tribute to Monteith which featured his most memorable moments from the show and ended with a title card reading, "Cory Monteith. Forever in our hearts."

The death was, of course, especially heartbreaking for Michele given their romantic history.

"From the minute I met Cory, I was like, 'This is the most handsome man I've ever seen in my whole life,'" Michele told Elle in a 2013 interview after his death. "One day we just looked at each other and we were like, 'You wanna do this?' We knew."

She also discussed him going to rehab in March 2013.

"I can only imagine what it looks like from the outside," Michele said. "It was such a short period of time between when people found out to, you know, July, but there are so many personal aspects of this whole journey that people are not invited to know. We had a full life, and that had lots of different details that will be ours forever, for only us to know."

Mark Salling's arrest for child pornography and 2018 death:

Mark Salling
Gabriel Olsen/FilmMagic

Glee fans were deeply shocked again in December 2015, when Mark Salling -- who played football player "Puck" on the show -- was arrested for possession of child pornography. Police said at the time that after receiving a tip from a "concerned person," they found images of child pornography at Salling's home. In May 2016, he was indicted on two counts of possessing child pornography, and court documents obtained by ET alleged that he knowingly possessed child pornography on his laptop computer, a hard drive and a 16 gigabyte USB flash drive.

After initially pleading not guilty in June 2016, Salling ended up pleading guilty to a federal offense of possessing child pornography involving a prepubescent minor in December 2017.

ET spoke with Rivera in September 2016 about her memoir, Sorry Not Sorry, and she candidly spoke about dating Salling on and off for three years while filming Glee. Rivera said she was not surprised by the charges against Salling.

"He was always just a very dark soul to me," Rivera said. "I always felt like there was something that he was wrestling with."

Rivera added that her dating Salling had a lot to do with being "young, dumb, and naive."

"You make such poor decisions in who you are going to date when you are 21, 22," she said. "Especially when you haven't dated that much ... You pick the hot guy, with the abs, who is kind of a bad boy."

In January 2018, Salling was found dead while awaiting sentencing. According to his death certificate, he died by suicide. He was 35 years old.

Becca Tobin's boyfriend found dead in his hotel room:

Fans mourned with Tobin in July 2014 when the Glee star's boyfriend at the time, Matt Bendik, was found dead in the bed of his Philadelphia hotel room. Bendik was in Philadelphia on a business trip and reportedly went out with friends the night before the tragedy.

Police told ET at the time that it was nearly one in the afternoon when housekeeping discovered the nightclub entrepreneur's body lying in the hotel bed. At 1:17 p.m., he was pronounced dead.

Tobin, who played Kitty Wilde on Glee, thanked fans for all their concern with a short message on Instagram in August 2014.

"Thank you all for the love and support," she wrote alongside a picture of her and Bendik. "Matt was the most extraordinary man I knew and he will live in my heart forever."

Tobin, 34, eventually moved on and married entrepreneur Zach Martin in a private ceremony in Wyoming in December 2016, and their wedding was officiated by her Glee co-star, Jane Lynch. A lot of her former Glee co-stars were also in attendance, including Michele, Kevin McHale, Jenna Ushkowitz, Meg Doyle, Michael Hitchcock, Matt Hodgson and Dante Russo.

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The night before.. ❤️

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❤️ the gangs all here

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Rivera reveals her traumatic abortion experience while still filming Glee:

In her 2016 memoir, Sorry Not Sorry, Rivera shared that she got an abortion when she got pregnant with her ex, Ryan Dorsey's, baby while filming Glee. She and her mother drove to a Planned Parenthood and wore disguises, and she was given an "abortion pill."

"We paid cash, leaving no paper trail, like it was a drug deal," she wrote.

Rivera described it as "the worst experience of [her] life," and remembered continuing to film the show despite experiencing a lot of pain.

"When I got up to work the next day, a little more than 12 hours after having a medical abortion, I had to put my cheerleading uniform back on, and hope that the skimpy bloomers covered the giant pad I was wearing," she wrote.

She later said she got addicted to watching MTV's Teen Mom.

"I was so jealous that they got to keep their kids," she wrote. "Watching it over and over was a way of punishing myself. 'What's wrong with you?' I'd ask myself."

"I don't think I ever emotionally healed from the abortion, which is why it is so mind-blowing that some people think having an abortion is the carefree girl's No. 1 choice to keep on partying," she continued. "In reality, it is anything but an easy choice. In some ways, I think choosing to have an abortion is almost harder than choosing to have your child, because you make that choice knowing, or at least suspecting, that many moments of your life will now be tinged with regret."

In ET's 2016 interview with Rivera, she reflected on her difficult decision.

"I think it's always on your mind, and it's one of those little scars in life," Rivera said. "When I was writing the book, it was really important for me to include that, because this is ... a part of my story and a part of who I am. And like I said, the statistic is crazy -- there are so many women out there that are going through this and nobody gets to talk about it."

Rivera said there were multiple reasons why she decided to get an abortion. She likened the feeling of finding out she was pregnant to first hearing that Monteith had died.

"It was a bunch of different factors, you know, and I was so young," she explained. "It was kind of that same feeling when I had the call about Cory, it was like the world stops, and you kind of black out for a minute. And you are like, 'What is going on? I have all this other stuff to do, you know?' So it was just never a real question."

"Like I said, it's something that is one of life's little scars that you get along the way, and the scars are never really healed," she added. "They are always kind of still there -- they are just not bleeding anymore."

Rivera ended up getting back together and marrying Dorsey in a surprise ceremony in 2014. They welcomed their son, Josey, in September 2015. But the two split in November of 2016 after two years of marriage, and their divorce was finalized in June 2018.

Melissa Benoist shares she's a victim of domestic violence:

Melissa Benoist
Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images

In November 2019, Benoist -- who played Marley Rose on the fourth and fifth seasons of Glee -- shared a 14-minute video in which she stated that she is "a survivor of domestic violence, or IPV, intimate partner violence." The actress never named her abuser, only sharing that the man was younger than her.

"I learned what it felt like to be pinned down and slapped repeatedly, punched so hard the wind was knocked out of me, dragged by my hair across pavement, head-butted, pinched until my skin broke, shoved into a wall so hard the drywall broke, choked," she said.

The breaking point came when he threw an iPhone at her face, allegedly tearing her iris to the point where it nearly ruptured her eyeball, broke her nose and gave her a fat lip.

"This was too far and I couldn't flush this story down with the tug of the drain," she said, explaining that they had to make up a story about how she fell and hit her face on a potted plant. She would go on to share the false story during an appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.

Benoist shared that she was opening up about her experience to hopefully help others in similar situations.

"The long and winding road of healing and reconciliation has brought me to this moment where I feel strong enough to talk about my experience openly, honestly and without shame," she wrote on Instagram. "By sharing my story, hopefully I can empower others to seek help and extricate themselves from abusive relationships. Everyone deserves to be loved void of violence, fear and physical harm. @futureswithoutviolence."

Benoist, 31, was previously married to her Glee costar, 27-year-old Blake Jenner, and their divorce was finalized in December 2017. She is currently married to her Supergirl costar, 32-year-old Chris Wood, and the couple is expecting their first child together.

Lea Michele is accused of bad behavior on the Glee set:

Lea Michele at the 30th Annual GLAAD Media Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in LA on March 28
Rich Fury/Getty Images

Over the years, 33-year-old Michele has been the subject of rumors about her behavior being less than stellar, but she was directly called out by her former Glee co-star, Samantha Ware, in June. Ware -- who played Jane Hayward on 11 episodes of Glee in 2015, her character memorably auditioning for the all-male a cappella group, The Warblers -- was bothered by Michele expressing her support for the Black Lives Matter movement. Ware accused Michele of making her Glee experience "a living hell."

More Glee stars chimed in, including Heather Morris, who played cheerleader Brittany Pierce. Morris tweeted about her experience with Michele on set, and seemed to confirm the rumors.

"Was she unpleasant to work with? Very much so; for Lea to treat others with the disrespect that she did for as long as she did, I believe she SHOULD be called out," Morris wrote in part, before implying that at the same time, she didn't feel Michele had any racist beliefs.

In ET's 2016 interview with Rivera, she too gave her thoughts on Michele. Rivera said that there were times when Michele was "unprofessional" on set, but that it didn't always involve her.

"[Our characters] Santana and Rachel hated each other, but they also had this love-hate sort of relationship, and I feel like Lea and I had that while we were on the show," she reflected.

Lea Michele, Naya Rivera
FOX via Getty Images

In her memoir, Rivera wrote of Michele, "I think Rachel -- erm, I mean Lea -- didn’t like sharing the spotlight. On top of that, she had a hard time separating work from our outside friendship, whereas it was a lot easier for me … Lea was a lot more sensitive, though, and sometimes it seemed like she blamed me for anything and everything that went wrong."

Meanwhile, Michele publicly apologized after Ware's Twitter comment went viral.

"When I tweeted the other day, it was meant to be a show of support for our friends and neighbors and communities of color during this really difficult time, but the responses I received to what I posted have made me also focus specifically on how my own behavior towards fellow cast members was perceived by them," she wrote in a lengthy Instagram message.

As for what was said about her behavior on set, Michele wrote, "I don't remember ever making this specific statement and I have never judged others by their background or color of their skin."

"That's not really the point, what matters is that I clearly acted in ways which hurt other people," she continued. "Whether it was my privileged position and perspective that caused me to be perceived as insensitive or inappropriate at times or whether it was just my immaturity and me just being unnecessarily difficult, I apologize for my behavior and for any pain which I have caused."

Amber Riley, who played Mercedes Jones on Glee, later appeared on Real Quick With Danielle Young and made it clear she couldn't care less about the drama surrounding Michele given the current events in the nation. She did, however, share that Michele "reached out" to her after her public apology.

"I wish Lea Michele well. I hope that she has an amazing pregnancy. I hope that she has grown," Riley said. "I responded to her and that's where it ends for me. I ain't talked to that girl in two years. I have no hatred or ill will on that end. I want to make that very clear. My life and what I talk about is not going to be about that. This is the first and last time I'm gonna say something."

Naya Rivera found dead:

Naya Rivera Women’s Guild Cedars-Sinai gala
Alex J. Berliner/ AB Images

In yet another stunning tragedy to hit the Glee cast, Rivera's body was found on July 13. Rivera went missing on July 8 after taking a boat ride in Lake Piru with her young son. She was 33 years old.

In a press conference on July 13, Sheriff Bill Ayub from the Ventura County Sheriff's Office said that there were no indications of foul play or suicide, and that Rivera possibly died saving Josey's life. Ayub said that Rivera's son told police that he and his mother went swimming and that while she was able to push him back up on the deck of the boat, she never resurfaced. Ayub added that there were sometimes strong currents in the lake in the afternoon, and that Rivera possibly had enough strength to push her son back in the boat but not herself.

In an earlier press conference on July 9, Ventura County Sheriff's Office spokesperson Capt. Eric Buschow said that they had no indication after talking to Rivera's son -- who was found by a boater alone on the lake and was unharmed -- that she ever made it to shore.

"It's not uncommon that we have boating accidents and people lose their lives," Buschow said.

A number of Rivera's Glee co-stars had been praying for her safe return.

"We need all the prayers we can get to bring our Naya back home to us," Morris shared on her Instagram Story last week. "We need your love and light."

Overstreet, who played Sam Evans on Glee, tweeted, "Love and hug on the people you can, while you can. I love you. Everyone please send out your prayers."

Riley and McHale also asked for respect for Rivera's family.

"All our energy is going toward helping find Naya and praying for her safe return and for her family," Riley tweeted. "No one owes anyone online a performance of grief. This is very real and devastating. Focus on Naya and her family. Not us. We don't matter right now."

On Monday, Rivera's Glee co-stars shared emotional tributes to her after police confirmed Rivera's body had been found, including Michele, who shared black-and-white pictures on her Instagram Story of both Monteith and Rivera.

Chris Colfer, who played Kurt Hummel, wrote in part of Rivera, "Being close to her was both a badge of honor and a suit of armor. Naya was truly one of a kind, and she always will be."

Lynch -- who played Sue Sylvester on Glee -- tweeted, "Rest sweet, Naya. What a force you were. Love and peace to your family."

Meanwhile, McHale commented on a video of Monteith and Rivera taking time to greet fans.

"I'm not religious by any means, but you'd be hard-pressed to convince me that Cory didn't help find our girl today," he wrote. "These 2, in many ways, were the male and female versions of one another. So nice, cared deeply, were stupidly talented, the most fun, and really really good people."

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There are no words and yet so many things I want to say, I don't believe I'll ever be able to articulate exactly what I feel but... Naya, you were a ⚡️ force and everyone who got to be around you knew it and felt the light and joy you exuded when you walked into a room. You shined on stage and screen and radiated with love behind closed doors. I was lucky enough to share so many laughs, martinis and secrets with you. I can not believe I took for granted that you'd always be here. Our friendship went in waves as life happens and we grow, so I will not look back and regret but know I love you and promise to help the legacy of your talent, humor, light and loyalty live on. You are so loved. You deserved the world and we will make sure Josey and your family feel that everyday. I miss you already.

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Naya was insanely talented, breathtakingly gorgeous, and one of the wittiest people I’ve ever met, but the legacy she left behind for me is her kindness. I joined the cast of Glee in the third season and as the newcomer, I was intimidated and terrified. The cast was already such a tight-knit group who had been working incredibly hard together for over three years to make it a hit show and I never expected any of them to have time for me. To my surprise, Naya, one of the most beloved by the rest of the cast (and the entire world), showed me instant warmth and kindness. She invited me to parties and gatherings and was always there to give advice. She was a superstar who had nothing to gain from being kind to the new girl, but she was and that changed this new girl’s entire experience on that show. I will forever be grateful to that beautiful human. My heart goes out to her family and her sweet boy. ❤️

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She was bold. She was outrageous. She was a LOT of fun.⁣ ⁣ Naya made me laugh like no one else on that set. I always said it while we were working together and I’ve maintained it ever since. Her playful, wicked sense of humor never ceased to bring a smile to my face.⁣ ⁣ She played by her own rules and was in a class of her own. She had a brashness about her that I couldn’t help but be enchanted by. I also always loved her voice, and savored every chance I got to hear her sing. I think she had more talent than we would have ever been able to see.⁣ ⁣ I was constantly moved by the degree to which she took care of her family, and how she looked out for her friends. She showed up for me on numerous occasions where she didn’t have to, and I was always so grateful for her friendship then, as I certainly am now.⁣ ⁣ And even as I sit here, struggling to comprehend, gutted beyond description- the very thought of her cracks me up and still brings a smile to my face. That was Naya’s gift. And it's a gift that will never go away. ⁣ ⁣ Rest in peace you wild, hilarious, beautiful angel.

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Meanwhile, Rivera's most recent social media post was a sweet picture on Instagram of her giving Josey a kiss.

"Just the two of us," she wrote.

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just the two of us

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On July 2, Rivera also tweeted, "No matter the year, circumstance, or strifes everyday you're alive is a blessing. make the most of today and every day you are given. tomorrow is not promised."

In her 2016 interview with ET, Rivera opened up about how motherhood had become her No. 1 priority.

"I'm a mom now, and what I love more than acting is being Josey's mom. So, I want to be here for him. And I don't want to miss anything," she said at the time. "I'm going to navigate the right way to do that."

Meanwhile, for a look back at Rivera's best Glee moments, watch the video below:

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