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).
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.
Fans of Monteith's may make donations in his name to three charities that were especially important to him: Project Limelight Society, which exposes youth living in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside to the arts; Virgin Unite, founded to support entrepreneurial efforts to better the world; and Chrysalis, which helps homeless and low-income individuals find employment.