The Tragic Death of Jon-Eric Hexum

Jon-Eric Hexum was an actor/model who had an all too short career that came to an abrupt end due to an accidental death. Hexum was born in my home state of New Jersey and rose to prominence at a very young age. Scoring his first acting role just two short years after graduating college.

That role will be familiar to listeners of the Retroist Podcast. He played the lead role of Phineas Bogg in the NBC series Voyagers!. Unfortunately this amazing show only lasted one season. Aired during the 1982–83 television season, it would go on to have a cult following.

Retroist Voyagers Podcast

While the show didn’t last long, it did make Hexum a star. He earned $10,000 a week playing Bogg and his good looks and acting skills were attracting a lot of attention. So it is no surprise that he quickly landed a new role on the CBS network series, Cover Up. It was on this show, which ran from September 22, 1984, to April 6, 1985, that Hexum would have a tragic accident that would claim his life.

While taking a break from filming, Hexum was playing around with a prop weapon which was loaded with blanks, during some downtime on set. He assumed it was harmless and placed the gun to his head and pulled the trigger. Sadly, the weapon was far from harmless. The gunpowder in the gun caused damage to his skull and fragments of it went into his brain.

He was rushed to the hospital, but it was too late. Hexum would never recover.

The show wouldn’t last long either. They would remove his character from the show and try to make it work, but Hexum was a big part of the show’s appeal. So it was quickly canceled. In the episode where his character died, their is a nice dedication to Hexum from show creator Glen Larson.

When a star dies, its light continues to shine
across the universe for millenniums.
John-Eric Hexum died in October of this year … but the lives he touched will continue to be brightened by his light
… forever … and ever.

Hexum might have died, but he was an organ donor and he helped a lot of people even after passing.

According to Wikipedia:

With his mother’s permission, his body was flown to San Francisco on life support, where his heart was transplanted into a 36-year-old Las Vegas man at California Pacific Medical Center. Hexum’s kidneys and corneas were also donated: One cornea went to a 66-year-old man, the other to a young girl. One of the kidney recipients was a critically ill five-year-old boy, and the other was a 43-year-old grandmother of three who had waited eight years for a kidney. Skin that was donated was used to treat a 3½-year-old boy with third degree burns.

A grand gesture and a nice way to add something positive to a terrible loss.

It is hard to know where Hexum’s career would have gone. Cover Up was a fun show. Playful and enjoyable in the same vein of Magnum PI. Perhaps we would have had 5 season of this fun show before he went onto a motion picture career. He had the talents and the looks, but like most tragedies, we are all just left with a big “What if.”

If you are unfamiliar with the TV show Cover Up, here is the full two part pilot of the series posted online.

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