CBS / . 1 / 50

Cory Monteith is another example of a performer lost long before his time.  Raised by a single mom, he dropped out of school in the ninth grade to work part-time jobs and drum in a local band. Meeting casting director Maureen Webb in the late ‘90s made him hightail it to Vancouver to become an actor. He made his onscreen debut in a 2004 episode of “Stargate: Atlantis” and followed it up with gigs on “Kyle XY” and “Fear Itself”. After sending producers a tape of himself playing Tupperware drums, he landed the role of jock-turned-gleek Finn Hudson on “Glee” and by November 2009, the series was a huge hit, Monteith had been on the cover of Entertainment Weekly and he landed a coveted spot on PEOPLE’s Sexiest Man Alive list. He was linked to Taylor Swift in 2010, but downplayed their relationship status as just friends. In May 2012, he and onscreen love interest Lea Michele went public with their off-screen love affair at a hockey game. She stayed with him while he completed a second stint in rehab for substance abuse in March 2013. (He previously had undergone treatment at 19.) Unfortunately sobriety didn’t stick and Monteith was found dead after failing to check out of his room at Vancouver’s Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel. He died of a lethal combination of heroin and alcohol according to an autopsy.