Corey Haim, first famous in the ’80s as a child star and then as a cautionary tale of the dangers of becoming a child star, was reported as found dead of a drug overdose early this morning, at age 38. Preliminary reports suggest the overdose was accidental.
It would be nice to say that this was a surprising end for Haim, who became a teen star in movies like Lucas, Lost Boys and License to Drive and, with Corey Feldman, as one of the ubiquitous “Two Coreys.” But it would be honest to say that this is the oldest story in Hollywood. The sad truth is that he became equally famous in later years—in the tabloids and in reality TV—as an example of the all-too-familiar fame-to-addiction spiral.
Haim went from magazine cover star in the ’80s to straight-to-video star in the ’90s by way of well-publicized problems with alcohol, coke, crack and other drugs; in an interview, he once claimed an 85-Valium-a-day habit. Just as he was paired with Feldman in fame, so were they linked as the poster boys for former fame and substance abuse. The two made the A&E reality series The Two Coreys, in which Feldman was presented as the straightened-out member of the duo, and Haim the volatile guy who still needed to get his life back on track.
More recently, Haim said that he had cleaned up and was ready to get back to work.
Coming just a few days after the Oscars tribute to teen-film master John Hughes—with tributes from visibly aged ’80s stars like Judd Nelson and Molly Ringwald—this is another mortality-check moment for the Gen Xers out there. And a reality-check moment for anyone who gets famous fast. And just a sad, sad ending all around.