Corey Haim, the 1980s child star-cum-dorky-boyish-heartthrob, suddenly passed away last Wednesday at a hospital in Burbank, California. He was only 38. Investigators are making preliminary conclusions that the actor accidentally overdosed on prescription drugs.
Capricorn, Canadian, and Jewish, Haim was born on December 23, 1971 in Toronto, Ontario to his mother Judy, an Israeli-born data processor, with whom he lived until his death, and father Bernie, a salesman.
His talent was not cultivated from passion—Haim’s mother made him take acting lessons as a way to help him get over his shyness. Like a good Canadian boy, he was more interested in hitting the hockey rink, collecting comic books, and jamming on his keyboard.
Before the days of Degrassi, Canadian tweens were tuning into The Edison Twins, a family comedy in which Haim made his television debut as Larry. Haim’s first silver screen performance, Firstborn, starred a pre-Sex and the City Sarah Jessica Parker and a pre-rehabilitation Robert Downey Jr. In Stephen King’s novella adapted for film, Silver Bullet (1985), Haim played the lead role of a paraplegic boy.
Come 1986, Haim climbed the celebrity ranks by starring alongside Liza Minnelli in the NBC TV movie A Time to Live. He played Minelli’s son, who, again, suffers from a crippling condition—this time muscular dystrophy—a performance for which he earned his first Young Artist Award as an Exceptional Young Actor Starring in a Television Special or Movie of the Week.
After another few minor roles here and there in cinema, Haim’s fresh talent stood out amid the exceptional cast of the film Lucas, including Charlie Sheen and Winona Ryder. Even the captious film critic Roger Ebert gave the young gun a favorable review.
Haim rose to Tiger Beat-style stardom for his role in Joel Schumaker’s 1987 teen vampire cult classic, The Lost Boys, where he met the professional and personal ying to his yang, Corey Feldman. Next year, the Corey duo starred in the money-making teen comedy License to Drive, and both of them tied for the Young Artist Award for Best Young Actor in a Motion Picture Comedy or Fantasy. At the pinnacle of fame, the pair starred in Dream a Little Dream, which birthed Michael Damian’s “Rock On,” reaching #1 rock single status on Billboard charts. Naturally, the Coreys made a leather jacket-clad cameo in Damian’s music video. That same year, he released a self-promotional documentary entitled Corey Haim: Me, Myself, and I.
Like many teen idols before and after him, Haim’s fall from fame came and went as fast as the decade that birthed his stardom. And, like many teen idols before and after him, Haim spiraled into substance abuse. In 2004, The Sun published an interview in which Haim was quoted saying that he “lived in LA in the Eighties, which was not the best place to be. I did cocaine for about a year and a half, then it led to crack.” After spending a year in rehab, Haim was given a plethora of prescription uppers and downers to curb his yearning for illicit drugs, which inevitably backfired and lead to more addiction. After a hefty 15 attempts at rehab, Haim suffered a stroke. A full motion Sega Saturn video game, four straight to VHS movies, an E! True Hollywood Story, and a cameo in Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star later, Haim decided to get on the wagon.
Clean and sober in early 2000s, Haim’s fans thought that the aughts would bring about a Corey comeback. The Haim-Feldman duo got together to shoot an A&E semi-scripted reality/improv television show of their quotidian lives post-teen stardom, aptly titled The Two Coreys. It ran for two seasons. Fearing his comeback was not being taken seriously, Haim put out a paid aid in Variety magazine in February 2008 stating, “This is not a stunt. I’m back. I’m ready to work. I’m ready to make amends.”
While Haim was never married, his hot exes include: Victoria Beckham, before she was even Posh Spice, and Baywatch babe, Nicole Eggert, to whom Haim was engaged. Two weeks prior to his death, he had been on two dates with Daisy de La Hoya of Rock of Love fame.
But for those of us Gen Y-ers born in the late 1980s—nursing bottles during Haim’s pinnacle of fame—it seems as though we don’t quite understand and appreciate his boyish stardom. Instead, Haim served as a model of the disposable child actors that Hollywood creates, chews up, and spits out once a facial hair sprouts or voice cracks. Not even VH1 reality television series can save all the lost boys. But to the MTV Generation, Corey Haim will forever be the Ray-Bans wearing vampire that made teenage hearts pitter-patter.
Beatrice Igne-Bianchi B’10 is a Tiger Beat subscriber.