Actor Mark Salling dies weeks after child porn guilty plea

 
 
Updated 1/31/2018 8:24 AM
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  • Mark Salling

    Mark Salling Associated Press, 2015

  • Journalists view the spot where Mark Salling, who played Noah "Puck" Puckerman in the hit musical-comedy "Glee," was found dead in a remote area of Big Tujunga Canyon in the Sunland-Tujunga area of Los Angeles, Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018. Authorities say Salling died of an apparent suicide. He was 35.

    Journalists view the spot where Mark Salling, who played Noah "Puck" Puckerman in the hit musical-comedy "Glee," was found dead in a remote area of Big Tujunga Canyon in the Sunland-Tujunga area of Los Angeles, Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018. Authorities say Salling died of an apparent suicide. He was 35. Associated Press

  • FILE - In this May 15, 2010 file photo, Mark Salling, a cast member of the popular television show "Glee", performs during a concert to kickoff a national "Glee" tour in Phoenix. Salling, one of the stars of the Fox musical comedy “Glee,” died, Tuesday Jan. 30, 2018. He was 35. Salling’s lawyer, Michael J. Proctor did not release the cause of death. Salling pleaded guilty in December to possession of child pornography.

    FILE - In this May 15, 2010 file photo, Mark Salling, a cast member of the popular television show "Glee", performs during a concert to kickoff a national "Glee" tour in Phoenix. Salling, one of the stars of the Fox musical comedy “Glee,” died, Tuesday Jan. 30, 2018. He was 35. Salling’s lawyer, Michael J. Proctor did not release the cause of death. Salling pleaded guilty in December to possession of child pornography. Associated Press

  • FILE - In this April 12, 2010 file photo, Mark Salling arrives at the "Glee" Spring Premiere Soiree in Los Angeles. Salling, one of the stars of the Fox musical comedy “Glee,” died, Tuesday Jan. 30, 2018. He was 35. Salling’s lawyer, Michael J. Proctor did not release the cause of death. Salling pleaded guilty in December to possession of child pornography.

    FILE - In this April 12, 2010 file photo, Mark Salling arrives at the "Glee" Spring Premiere Soiree in Los Angeles. Salling, one of the stars of the Fox musical comedy “Glee,” died, Tuesday Jan. 30, 2018. He was 35. Salling’s lawyer, Michael J. Proctor did not release the cause of death. Salling pleaded guilty in December to possession of child pornography. Associated Press

  • FILE - In this Jan. 6, 2010 file photo, the cast of "Glee," from left, Dianna Agron, Chris Colfer, Mark Salling, Kevin McHale, Jenna Ushkowitz, Amber Riley, Lea Michele and Cory Monteith arrives at the People's Choice Awards in Los Angeles. Salling, one of the stars of the Fox musical comedy “Glee,” died, Tuesday Jan. 30, 2018. He was 35. Salling’s lawyer, Michael J. Proctor did not release the cause of death. Salling pleaded guilty in December to possession of child pornography.

    FILE - In this Jan. 6, 2010 file photo, the cast of "Glee," from left, Dianna Agron, Chris Colfer, Mark Salling, Kevin McHale, Jenna Ushkowitz, Amber Riley, Lea Michele and Cory Monteith arrives at the People's Choice Awards in Los Angeles. Salling, one of the stars of the Fox musical comedy “Glee,” died, Tuesday Jan. 30, 2018. He was 35. Salling’s lawyer, Michael J. Proctor did not release the cause of death. Salling pleaded guilty in December to possession of child pornography. Associated Press

  • FILE - In this Nov. 13, 2012 file photo, Mark Salling attends the GQ "Men Of The Year" party in Los Angeles.  Salling, one of the stars of the Fox musical comedy “Glee,” died, Tuesday Jan. 30, 2018. He was 35. Salling’s lawyer, Michael J. Proctor did not release the cause of death. Salling pleaded guilty in December to possession of child pornography. (Photo by John Shearer/Invision/AP, File)

    FILE - In this Nov. 13, 2012 file photo, Mark Salling attends the GQ "Men Of The Year" party in Los Angeles. Salling, one of the stars of the Fox musical comedy “Glee,” died, Tuesday Jan. 30, 2018. He was 35. Salling’s lawyer, Michael J. Proctor did not release the cause of death. Salling pleaded guilty in December to possession of child pornography. (Photo by John Shearer/Invision/AP, File) Associated Press

  • FILE - In this Aug. 28, 2009 file photo, cast members, from left, Kevin McHale, Jenna Ushkowitz, Amber Riley, Dianna Agron, Chris Colfer, Lea Michele, Cory Monteith, and Mark Salling pose for photographers during The Gleek Tour for the television show "Glee" in Los Angeles.  Salling, one of the stars of the Fox musical comedy “Glee,” died, Tuesday Jan. 30, 2018. He was 35. Salling’s lawyer, Michael J. Proctor did not release the cause of death. Salling pleaded guilty in December to possession of child pornography.

    FILE - In this Aug. 28, 2009 file photo, cast members, from left, Kevin McHale, Jenna Ushkowitz, Amber Riley, Dianna Agron, Chris Colfer, Lea Michele, Cory Monteith, and Mark Salling pose for photographers during The Gleek Tour for the television show "Glee" in Los Angeles. Salling, one of the stars of the Fox musical comedy “Glee,” died, Tuesday Jan. 30, 2018. He was 35. Salling’s lawyer, Michael J. Proctor did not release the cause of death. Salling pleaded guilty in December to possession of child pornography. Associated Press

  • A person stands near the spot where Mark Salling, who played Noah "Puck" Puckerman in the hit musical-comedy "Glee," was found dead in a remote area of Big Tujunga Canyon in the Sunland-Tujunga area of Los Angeles, Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018. Authorities say Salling died of an apparent suicide. He was 35.

    A person stands near the spot where Mark Salling, who played Noah "Puck" Puckerman in the hit musical-comedy "Glee," was found dead in a remote area of Big Tujunga Canyon in the Sunland-Tujunga area of Los Angeles, Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018. Authorities say Salling died of an apparent suicide. He was 35. Associated Press

LOS ANGELES -- Mark Salling, who played bad-boy Noah "Puck" Puckerman in the hit musical-comedy "Glee," died of an apparent suicide Tuesday, weeks after pleading guilty to possessing child pornography. He was 35.

Salling pleaded guilty in December after authorities said a search of his computer and a thumb drive found more than 50,000 images of child porn. He was scheduled to be sentenced March 7, and prosecutors planned to ask a judge to send him to prison for four to seven years.

A law enforcement official not authorized to speak publicly said Salling was found hanging in a riverbed area in the Tujunga neighborhood of Los Angeles. Ed Winter, assistant chief investigator for the Los Angeles County coroner's office, said the death is being investigated as a suicide.

Winter said Salling was pronounced dead at 9 a.m. Tuesday, six hours after police received a report that he was missing.

"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," Salling's attorney, Michael J. Proctor, said in an email to The Associated Press.

Proctor didn't discuss the cause of death, but said the actor's family appreciated the support it is receiving and asked that a request for privacy be respected.

The darkly handsome actor had appeared in only a handful of projects before his breakout role in "Glee," the popular Fox TV series about students in a high school glee club and their circle of family and friends. It aired from 2009-15.

Earlier credits included 1996's "Children of the Corn IV: The Gathering," a 1999 guest role on the Chuck Norris series "Walker, Texas Ranger" and a part in the 2014 TV movie "Rocky Road."

A singer-songwriter as well as actor, he released two albums: "Smoke Signals" in 2008 and "Pipe Dreams" in 2010.

Following "Pipe Dreams'," release, Salling told The Associated Press he had been a singer-songwriter long before he became an actor.

"I put out a record before. It went triple cardboard," he joked. "I was very excited about selling 125 units for that but you know this is something I've been doing my whole life. It's not something that I just decided to randomly do now. This is not the first. It won't be the last. And I hope people enjoy it and have something to look forward to for the next round."

He said he chose the album's songs from 50 to 60 he had compiled over several years.

Salling's character on "Glee" was a member of the school's football team who ends up joining the glee club. One of his character's friends was another jock-turned-singer, Finn Hudson, who was played by Cory Monteith.

Monteith died in 2013 from a toxic mix of alcohol and heroin, according to a coroner's finding.

Mark Wayne Salling was born Aug. 17, 1982, in Dallas, the youngest child of John Salling, an accountant, and his wife, Condy, a school secretary.

Like his character on "Glee," Salling was a jock, taking part in wrestling, rugby, basketball and other school sports when he wasn't playing guitar or piano. By high school he was playing gigs in local bars.

Soon after finishing school he moved to California to pursue an acting and music career and to study guitar at the Los Angeles Music Academy.

After seven years of failing to land any substantial roles, and having released just one album, Salling was ready to give up when his older brother, Matt, exhorted him to keep trying. Soon after he landed the role on "Glee," where he quickly captivated audiences. His performance of Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline" even won praise from Diamond himself.

Salling said his own musical preferences covered a wide range from jazz to country to rock, pop and hip-hop. He cited Radiohead's Thom Yorke and Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails as among his musical influences.

He is survived by his parents and brother.

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