On October 18th, 1984, I suffered a devastating loss when actor Jon-Erik Hexum accidentally shot himself in the head with a prop gun while on the set of his TV series Cover Up. After failing to recover from the brain trauma, he was declared dead six days later, his organs donated to those in need.
That was a really rough week for me. I was 16, studying to become an actress, and had been following Jon-Erik's career since his starring role on Voyagers!, one of my favourite shows, back in 1982. I took his death very hard, because I sorta knew Jon-Erik. While he was working on Voyagers! I wrote him a fan letter, just gushing about him and the show. He wrote me back a few weeks later and included some personal photos of himself on the set. Not publicity shots but candid pics of him and his co-star Meeno Peluce goofing around on set. I wrote him back to thank him, and told him I was studying to become an actress, and he wrote me back again, gave some career advice and even more photos of himself and Meeno (I think I may still have an autographed picture of him somewhere. I should try to find it.). Anyway, as the months passed and Voyagers! wrapped production, Jon-Erik and I continued to write to each other, right up to the month he passed away.
I found out about the accident on Entertainment Tonight and was absolutely sick with worry, praying that he'd recover. The day his parents pulled the plug I went into a deep, near suicidal depression. Jon-Erik Hexum was the kindest, most thoughtful and giving actor I had ever encountered up to that point. I'd hoped that he and I would work together — or at the very least, meet — someday. So genuine, caring and compassionate, he revealed many private things to me in his writings, and I will never forget how much he trusted me, a 16 year-old nobody from Canada, with his secrets. I still think about Jon-Erik from time to time, and wonder what he'd be doing now, if that prop gun hadn't blown a hole in his temple.
The world lost someone special when he died. :-(