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Today's News: Our Take - Remembering Cory Monteith: TVGuide.com's Editors Look Back

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Updated: 7/14/2013 5:41 pm

Cory Monteith | Photo Credits: Carin Baer/FOX

Following the sudden and tragic death of Glee star Cory Monteith, who was found dead Saturday at the young age of 31, messages of condolences and sadness have poured in from the Hollywood community. Those who knew him not only mourned the loss of a great talent and a rising star, but also a kind and humble individual who never let the fame that came with starring on one of TV's biggest sensations get to his head.

Hollywood reacts to Cory Monteith's death

Some of us here at TVGuide.com only knew Monteith as the lovable jock Finn Hudson, but others had the chance to experience Monteith's sincerity and sweetness first-hand while covering Glee's first four years on the air. Below are some of our favorite memories of Monteith:

Months before its official premiere, Fox previewed a little show called Glee after the American Idol season finale. The show debuted to decent fanfare, but when I was on set for the Season 1 episode "The Rhodes Not Taken," the mega-stardom hadn't quite hit the actors. Cory Monteith was both humble and endearing, and as I watched him and the cast perform Queen's "Somebody to Love" at least a dozen times, it became very clear that he was destined for a successful career. Years later, Monteith was on his way out of the Fox party at the Television Critics Association's Press Tour. He had been surrounded by reporters all night, but when I tapped him as he exited, it was not surprising to me that he happily gave me a few minutes to talk about the show. He was still kind and humble, even after the stardom had set in. — Natalie Abrams

Cory Monteith never got to be as quirky or as over-the-top as some of his Glee so-stars. From the very beginning, Finn was the audience surrogate, a familiar entry into this weird world of showtunes, divas and two-stepping. But the second Monteith started performing — whether that was singing, dancing or drumming — it didn't matter that Finn could never hit notes like Rachel, have moves like Mike or make us laugh like Kurt. The childlike enthusiasm he got from performing was infectious. And to this day, I still weep like a baby every time I watch him dedicate "Just the Way You Are" to Kurt and dance with his new brother. Sadie Gennis

I'm certainly not a Gleek, but when I did watch Glee, the thing that kept me from changing the channel was Cory Monteith. Finn was the heart of the show, and I related to his small-town character's fear (and refusal to accept) that high school would be the peak of his life. I remember seeing Monteith surrounded by mobs of reporters on several occasions at Fox's parties during the Television Critics Association tours. Like his fictional counterpart, Monteith drew people to himself with a genuine kindness and humble optimism that the best was still to come. Don't stop believin', indeed. — Adam Bryant

WATCH: Cory Monteith's 10 most memorable Performances on Glee

Monteith's character Finn wasn't the best singer and was certainly one of the worst dancers, but he had an affable, unassuming charm that translated across the screen. Is it any wonder that Lea Michele, who played his onscreen girlfriend Rachel, decided to make beautiful music together and date Monteith in real life?  To me, he always presented himself as a great person first and an actor second, a refreshing change in Hollywood. As a TV journalist, I can get caught up in the "us vs. them" mentality of trying to get the scoop, trying to get that special quote, but when I talked to Cory at Fox parties, that tension was absent. We were just a couple of people exchanging pleasantries over a cola and buffet offerings. It seems cliché to call him a class act, but that is really what he was. Cory, Finn and yes, even Finnchel are all indelible parts of my career, and this loss has hit closer to home than I thought it would. Thanks for all the music, Cory. Hanh Nguyen

I never met or interviewed Cory Monteith, and I do not watch Glee. Actually, that's not entirely true. I've seen a few episodes from the early seasons when I was prognosticating the show's awards prospects, which seems trivial at a time like this. Though Monteith was never individually recognized, I was impressed by the sympathetic vulnerability he brought to the stereotypical dim high-school jock role, and I was further charmed by him when he sang R.E.M.'s "Losing My Religion" backwards on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon in 2010. As so often happens, I fell into a YouTube hole afterward, and watched one engaging interview with him after another, always struck by his wit, kindness and candor, especially when he spoke about his troubled youth. One of my favorites: His appearance on the Canadian show The Hour in 2009, during the nascent days of Glee. Clearly grateful for his newfound success, he was overwhelmed when asked the future of his career and gave a now bittersweet, poignant answer: "The way I see it is, if I show up every day and I work my hardest and do my best ... what happens tomorrow — I don't know what happens tomorrow." Joyce Eng

Glee actor Cory Monteith found dead

I had heard from colleagues just how approachable and funny Cory was with the press, but I never actually interviewed him myself. But I do remember this little-seen video interview that he did for Young Hollywood in the early days of Glee, in which he gave a tour of his modest bachelor pad. It showed a young man who has tasted success but has remained humble. He was charming, funny and very willing to play the fool to get a laugh, much like he did as lunkhead jock Finn Hudson. His off-camera ease was a rarity in this business. Mickey O'Connor

When I first interviewed Cory Monteith for Glee, the cast was wrapping up a whirlwind 10-city promotional tour. Although just one preview episode had aired, hundreds of fans adorning blue Gleek t-shirts were lined up outside of the Hot Topic in Hollywood to get a glimpse of TV's newest stars — a fact that stunned Monteith. "We have fans! What the heck is that?!" he told me with a genuine look of shock and appreciation. The newfound fame didn't keep Monteith from openly talking about his struggles with the show's choreography — an obstacle that would lovingly become one of Finn's signature traits. He also beamed about having "finally" persuaded co-creator Ryan Murphy to write him a solo.  Nine months later, I watched from the very back row of Los Angeles' Gibson Amphitheatre as Monteith and the rest of the touring Glee cast took the stage to sing and dance their hearts out for thousands of screaming fans. Monteith had found his voice and his days of having to persuade Murphy were behind him. Although he's gone too soon, his spirit, his work and his voice will live on.   Kate Stanhope

Though I never had the opportunity to interview Cory Monteith or meet him personally, he always struck me as that rare breed of celebrity who truly wants to use their position of influence to make a positive impact on the lives of others. I especially admired him for his work with the Bully Project and the LGBT project Straight But Not Narrow. Monteith's consistent encouragement of complete strangers to embrace who they are and stay strong in the face of adversity makes it all the more tragic that he was unable to overcome his own inner demons. Liz Raftery



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