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VANCOUVER – Not since screen legend Errol Flynn died here of a heart attack in October 1959 has Vancouver felt the impact of a Hollywood celebrity death triggering a worldwide outpouring of grief.
There’s round-the-clock local media coverage of the death of Cory Monteith, now confirmed as the result of a drug and alcohol overdose, according to an initial report from the B.C. Coroners Service.
As the shock of a mysterious death now solved sinks in through Tuesday afternoon, a makeshift shrine has gone up outside the Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel, where Monteith’s lifeless body was discovered by cleaning staff around noon Saturday.
“You see more flowers, you see tears as there’s a place to gather. It’s cathartic to go to that place and talk about Cory. There’s still shock and disbelief,” Breakfast Television Vancouver host Riaz Meghji told The Hollywood Reporter.
Meghji has filed reports from outside the now-infamous hotel’s swinging doors since early Sunday, supplying live updates to BT shows across Canada on the City network.
He’s not alone. Local cameramen and snappers have been thick on the ground, following heartbroken Gleeks as they walk in the footprints the TV star left during his final days.
The world may have learned of Monteith’s death via the Twitterverse, but the Canadian media is keen to carry on the conversation.
And with the nearness of Los Angeles, and a dearth of local film and TV stars, they have in Monteith a local hero to follow Michael Jackson, Heath Ledger and Amy Winehouse in having battled substance abuse before dying mysteriously.
“It makes it more real,” Meghji added of the Hollywood star dying on the city’s doorstep.
It doesn’t happen often.
But for Flynn, and now Monteith, Hollywood A-listers that pass through this city, mostly to shoot studio pictures or TV series on local soundstages, tend to leave without the judgment of tabloids, or death certificates.
The local media has also been respectful to a TV star many knew, as Monteith often returned home for promotional visits or film work.
“We felt a bond with him because he was a kid who made it big from a small town; he was just another struggling actor until Glee came along,” Erin Cebula, a Vancouver-based entertainment reporter for Entertainment Tonight Canada, said.
“He always made a point to give a lot to Canadian journalists. He always spoke to us on the red carpet,” she added.
Monday night, ET Canada featured the latest news on Monteith’s death before going into the archives to celebrate his life with a look back at his years on Glee and a flashback to when he hosted the Gemini Awards, Canada’s TV awards, in Toronto in 2010.
Gloria Martin, a veteran entertainment radio reporter with 680 News in Toronto, remembered Monteith coming to the station for his first interview with her in 2009.
“He said he was thrilled with the success of the show. And he’d worked some crappy jobs before getting into acting,” Martin said, recalling how Monteith had been a Walmart greeter before getting into the acting game. “He was not big-headed about it (fame), just determined to be working hard. When I asked for an autograph for my daughter, he happily gave me one.”
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