People were fascinated by the songs, and they were fascinated by the characters. There was ambitious Rachel, sweet Finn, popular Quinn, optimistic Artie, and a treasure trove of other sharply defined teenaged characters. And then there was Puck, or rather, Noah Puckerman, the resident bad boy at William McKinley High School.
Puck was played by Mark Salling, an actor everyone was sure would go on to be the next big thing. Instead, his name swiftly became infamous.
Salling died on Tuesday morning at the age of 35. Instead of being remembered as an actor from one of the most beloved and influential shows in recent history, he will be remembered as a man who pled guilty to possession of child pornography.
Salling’s life in recent years was plagued with scandal, most of it of an obscene and sexual nature. In 2013, Salling was sued by his ex-girlfriend Roxanne Gorzela for sexual battery.
Gorzela alleged that Salling forced her to have unprotected sex, even though she’d specified she’d only wanted to have sex with a condom. When she went to his house to confront him some days later, they fought and Salling pushed her on the floor, damaging her knees.
They later settled the case in court to the tune of 2.7 million dollars.
That wasn’t Salling’s only run in with the law, however. Between April and December 2015, Salling downloaded over 50,000 images of child pornography – many featuring girls as young as three – on his computer.
Salling used software to mask his IP address, but he eventually showed the images to a woman he was dating. She subsequently reported him to the police, who arrested him at his Sunland, California home.
The police had to use a battering ram to get inside his house, and seized Salling’s electronic devices when he refused to give them the passwords. The actor later pled guilty to the charges and was given a reduced sentence of four to six years in jail. He also had to pay $50,000 to each victim in the videos that filed a complaint.
Salling was found dead of apparent suicide near Big Tujunga Creek close to his home. His family released a statement to The Blast.
I can confirm that Mark Salling passed away early this morning. Mark was a gentle and loving person, a person of great creativity, who was doing his best to atone for some serious mistakes and errors of judgment. He is survived by his mother and father, and his brother. The Salling family appreciates the support they have been receiving and asks for their privacy to be respected.’
This is not Salling’s first suicide attempt. The actor had been hospitalized for a attempt last summer, and was released when his mental health seemed more stable.
He is the second Glee alum to die unexpectedly. Costar Cory Monteith, who played Finn, died of an apparent drug overdose in 2013.