While the Independent Spirit Awards paid tribute to the passing of three entertainment professionals who made an impact in the world of independent films, the cause of death for Philip Seymour Hoffman was revealed to be similar to that of John Belushi. A toxic mixture of heroin and cocaine – otherwise known as a “speedball” combined with amphetamine, and benzodiazepine all contributed to the award winning actor’s accidental demise.
The three men whom the awards ceremony paid tribute to were Roger Ebert, John Gandolfini and Philip Seymour Hoffman. All three had died over the last year and all contributed to the business in one way or another. Out of the three, only Hoffman’s accidental death was drugs related.
Over three decades ago, SNL alumnus Belushi, who had left the comedy program to pursue a career in film, was found dead of an overdose at the age of 33. On the day that the comedic genius died, he was visited by two of Hollywood’s brightest stars, Robin Williams, Robert De Niro both dropped by the bungalow where John received his fatal injection from Catherine Evelyn Smith. Smith later admitted to administering the speedball that killed Belushi in an interview with The National Enquirer which led to her being extradited from Canada to face charges of involuntary manslaughter.
Unlike Belushi, 46 year-old Hoffman was alone and had no one administering the fatal shot that resulted in his accidental overdose. The award winning actor was found dead in his New York City apartment. Alone with the syringe still in his arm. Another difference between the two deaths had to due with the nature of the two men’s drug use. Belushi used drugs as a recreational avenue that soon spiralled out of control. Hoffman was a self admitted addict who managed to stay off drugs for over 23 years.
In 2012 the actor checked himself into rehab after falling “off the wagon” for a 10 day stint meant to put Hoffman back on track. After being found by a friend and a playwright in his Manhattan Greenwich Village apartment, law enforcement officials came and found copious amounts of heroin in bags scattered around his body. On Friday, the New York Medical Examiner released the post mortem results. The cause of death was from a mixture of heroin and cocaine. This result of the toxicology tests was disturbingly similar to John Belushi and his death in 1982 sans the additional findings of amphetamine and benzodiazepine.
Another celebrity who suffered a death from accidental overdose was Glee star 31 year-old Cory Monteith who died from a toxic mix of heroin and alcohol in a hotel room in Vancouver, Canada. Monteith had more in common with Hoffman as he also was a self admitted addict who tried for some time to get off his dependency on drugs. His on, and off, stage girlfriend Lea Michele had helped the young actor in his endeavors to stay clean.
On a side note, there appears to be a third connection which exists between Monteith and Belushi. Cory was born the same year that John died. The other thread that runs between all three is, of course, the heroin making a sort of drugs triangle.
Neither Philip Seymour Hoffman, Cory Monteith, or John Belushi were exceptions to a rule about celebrities who used drugs on a serious level. According to artist Plastic Jesus, this drug use is tinsel town’s “best kept secret.” The artist put up an eight foot tall golden Oscar statue caught in the act of putting syringe in it’s arm with a tourniquet wrapped around the receiving appendage. Plastic Jesus also has the best kept secret phrase inscribed on the sculpture.
The artist stated that it was the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman that prompted him to create the statue. Plastic Jesus spoke to LA Weekly and revealed that he had lost relatives to drug overdose; a cousin and his wife. Although inclimate weather forced the artist to take his drug taking Oscar down, he will be putting it back up before the awards event on Sunday, March 2.
The statue, with its sober message, seems to indicate that there is a drugs epidemic going through the occupants of Hollywood that the public are unaware of. That may well be true. Out of the three fatalities mentioned, only Belushi had a drug “habit” that the public were unaware of. The Animal House actor’s death was similar to Philip Seymour Hoffman’s in that both men died ultimately of a heroin/cocaine mix. Hoffman, however, and the young Glee star Cory Monteith both publicly admitted their problems with substance misuse. Both men also checked themselves into rehab prior to their deaths. Hopefully Plastic Jesus is wrong about the depths of heroin use in the industry. If not, there may be more deaths of tragically talented people from the city of dreams.
By Michael Smith