Glee actor Mark Salling has died aged 35 with reports suggesting he had taken his own life.
The actor’s death occurred following a charge of possession of indecent images – on which he was awaiting sentencing – and a 2011 allegation of sexual harassment that was settled for $2.7 million.
Now Hollywood is facing the question of how you should react to a friend or colleague’s death when their reputation has been destroyed by their actions.
Best known for playing footballer Noah ‘Puck’ Puckerman on Glee from 2009 to 2015, Salling was awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to possessing over 50,000 child pornography images and over 600 videos in December 2017.
It was expected that Salling would get between four and seven years in jail for his crimes with sentencing due on March 7.
Entering into a plea deal last October, he avoided a lengthier prison sentence of up to 20 years.
His former Glee co-stars have been reacting to the news of his death with many being slammed for their tributes on social media.
Matthew Morrison, who played teacher Will in the popular show, shared a photo of himself next to Salling and fellow co-star Corey Monteith who died in 2013 following an accidental drug overdose.
In the caption he used angel emojis to represent Salling and Monteith choosing a sad face emoji for himself:
People flooded to the comments to criticise Morrison for paying tribute to a self-confessed paedophile, particularly being outraged at his choice of emoji.
One person angrily commented:
Salling will rest eternally in the bowels of the hottest Hell. A filthy, warped pervert.
All you who add RIPs and angel emojis – shame on you for your attention grabbing by supporting a paedophile. Salling was a twisted abomination that should never be missed by decent people.
Another also voiced their outrage writing:
That caption is so wrong and disgusting!!
There is absolutely no way Mark deserves to be considered an angel and put in the same category as Corey. I really hope you can one day see what is so wrong with this post.
But Morrison was not the only one, as vocal producer Tim Davis also shared his condolences on Twitter, writing:
Today we lost another Glee cast member. Yes, he committed crimes against children. Yes, it’s horrific.
But Mark Salling was a broken man, no doubt an abuse victim himself. I loved Mark, and am sad when I consider the devastation of his parents. PLEASE withhold your cruel comments.
Let me be clear. Having compassion for Mark Salling in no way minimises his crimes, nor does it minimise the pain and devastation of the victims of those crimes.
I’m just saying stop adding to his family’s pain. This was their son. If you’re without sin, feel free to cast stones.
Today we lost another #Glee cast member.Yes, he committed crimes against children.Yes, it's horrific. But #MarkSalling was a broken man, no doubt an abuse victim himself. I loved Mark, and am sad when I consider the devastation of his parents. PLEASE withhold your cruel comments.
— Tim Davis (@loudmouthmuch) January 30, 2018
Let me be clear. Having compassion for #MarkSalling in no way minimizes his crimes, nor does it minimize the pain and devastation of the victims of those crimes. I'm just saying stop adding to his family's pain. This was their son. If you're without sin, feel free to cast stones.
— Tim Davis (@loudmouthmuch) January 30, 2018
Although Davis asked those online to ‘withhold your cruel comments’ and made it clear he understood Salling ‘committed crimes against children’, the responses to his tweets were filled with criticism.
A user known as TheAFabulous50 replied with:
The minute you used the word ‘but’ in your original tweet you minimised the crime against his victims – plain and simple.
Hayden Hewitt was equally angry writing back:
I’m sure the pain his family have felt at having a paedophile among them was dreadful, I’m sure his suicide caused them pain and grief too.
But stop your virtue signalling bulls***, a paedophile you liked is still a paedophile. Killing himself was best thing for him.
So many heartwarming memorials to a dead paedophile on Twitter tonight. #marksalling
— Hayden Hewitt (@HaydenHewitt) January 31, 2018
Meanwhile actress Jane Lynch spoke to TMZ about Salling’s death saying the news was ‘sad, very tragic’.
The guy made the really sweet video at the beginning of Glee when he was so happy to be a part of this group. It’s tragic, I am broken hearted a bit.
Lynch also retweeted Davis’ comments about the death which also drew criticism to her.
She has not yet shared her own condolences on social media.
Although the majority of responses to these tributes were damning, some people supported the co-stars saying despite Salling’s crimes his suicide is still heartbreaking news for both his friends and family.
On Morrison’s Instagram post one person wrote:
In spite of all the wrongs in his life, Mark was a HUMAN BEING and hanging of a tree is certainly not coming out of joy. It is a suicide and he had friends and family. Show some respect.
Another Glee fan shared Mark’s sadness commenting:
I have had a whole day to process his death. I’m still so sad. I felt so sick when he admitted his guilt to the charges laid against him… part of me feels nauseous.
I feel conflicted for feeling sad but I’m so angry at him for what he did. I hope he finds some peace in the afterlife.
It is understandable why those closest to Salling would be upset at the news of his death but perhaps given his heinous crimes their grieving would be better done in private.
But whose place is it to tell others how to grieve?
There are many questions raised by this series of events.
Emily Murray is a journalist at UNILAD. She graduated from the University of Leeds with a BA in English Literature and History before studying for a Masters in Journalism at the University of Salford. Emily has previously worked for the BBC, ITV and Trinity Mirror. When Emily isn’t writing about topics including mental health and entertainment, you can find her at the cinema which is her second home.