Corey Haim, and Doing Hollywood the Wrong Way

I can’t honestly say that I woke up this morning thinking about Corey Haim, who died by way of overdose last night in Los Angeles, but in a way I have been thinking a lot about people just like Haim recently. I don’t know how many people ever watch A&E’s Biography, an hour to two hour length show that follows the careers and personal lifes of its subjects, but just this week Biography covered Johnny Depp and Joaquin Phoenix, and the two actors are connected by one tragic experience: the death of River Phoenix in 1993. Joaquin is the younger brother of River, and Depp was good friends with him. Both men were at Depp’s famous Viper Room club in Los Angeles the night River died of an overdose.

Just recently the actress Brittany Murphy died of a coronary disorder that may have been brought on by over-use of prescription drugs. And of course, ever year there are tragedies like these, and people we know and love lose their lives all too often for dumb, meaningless reasons. When is this type of behavior going to stop?

Corey Hain is not one of my all time favorite actors, and since I am not a girl I didn’t grow up reading about him in Tiger Beat magazine or hanging his posters all over my room, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t know about the guy or like him. Lucas, which was about a nerdy outsider and starred other young actors Corey Feldman, and Charlie Sheen, was one of my favorite movies growing up in the eighties. Silver Bullet, one of the scariest werewolf movies ever made used to terrify me as a child, and when I was a little bit older I loved License to Drive, and had a big crush on a very young Heather Graham. All of these movies and a few others starred the late, great Corey Haim. I don’t know why Corey’s career didn’t extend to adulthood, other than the fact that few child stars have good adult careers, but Corey was more than a cute face. He was embued with a certain earnestness and vulnerability that stood out on the big screen. Corey had that rare gift of being attractive without coming off as arrogant or self-aware. In many ways his career paralleled and perhaps propelled another famous teen actor, Macauly Culkin. Both were blonde, cute, and captured the precocious eighties child perfectly.

So it is sad to see Corey go, and it has been sad to see so many other people, guys like Chris Farley, and Curt Cobain, guys I admired, go the same way. Contrary to popular opinion it was more than drugs that killed these individuals. Some overdoses, like the one that killed River Phoenix, are more accidental, but most involve a pattern of self destructive behavior and a lifestyle that is simply unsustainable. I believe Hollywood and the price of fame is as big a culprit in these actors deaths as anything else. I lived near Hollywood for about six months in the city of Long Beach, and there is a permeance to the drug culture out there, a care-free attitude about drug use that just doesn’t exist in other parts of the country. It is easy to get caught up in the trappings of fame and in a town like Hollywood, where partying and drug use go hand-in-hand, it is easy to see how so many young men and women get swept up in that lifestyle. But how are some actors able to make it, and others aren’t?

If you watched the Academy Awards the other night you saw that Jeff Bridges, who won an Oscar for Crazy Heart, has been married for 34 years. He has been acting a long time, going back to The Last Picture Show in 1971, and smaller parts before that. The late, great Paul Newman, who died two years ago, was married for over fifty years. His marriage and acting career roughly spanned the same length of time, and other actors like Hugh Jackson, and Tom Cruise seem to be grounded by marriage, living outside of Hollywood, and pursuing passionate hobbies.

Hollywood is a rough town and it is a place that can eat you up if you are not careful. We hear a lot about living for the moment in today’s self-obsessed culture, but perhaps it is an irony that the actors who have been most successful in terms of a sustained career, and happy personal life have had good support structures at home, and don’t spend all of their time working in the industry.

It is sad that so many young people that make it in Hollywood don’t realize the importance of this. As a man who used  to drink heavily I know how much fun the party scene can be, but at some point the party has to end. Guys like Corey Haim may not have always had fame, but that doesn’t mean they couldn’t have a great and productive life. I sometimes wonder what an actor like River Phoenix would be doing right now if he was still alive. What kind of music would Curt Cobain be making if he was still around? Unfortunately, we will never know.

There is a wrong way to do Hollywood, and a right way. Unfortunately guys like Haim went down the wrong path, and their death can serve as a lesson to us all. Sometimes the party just has to end. You do know that, don’t you?


Jack B.

1 Response to “Corey Haim, and Doing Hollywood the Wrong Way”

  1. 1 Jenn
    March 10, 2010 at 4:06 pm

    These constant problems are the reason why there needs to be tighter drung control because youths easily fall into the trap addictive drug use. These people are just magnified persons in the spotlight but it reflects a bigger issue of the common youths which get involved in drugs.

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