Mark Wayne Salling was an American actor, singer and musician. He was best known for his role of a musically-inclined football player, ‘Noah ‘Puck’ Puckerman,’ in the TV series ‘Glee.’ He was born and raised in Dallas, US, in a strict Christian family. He was interested in music from early childhood and played piano as well as wrote songs. Initially he worked as a child artist in a few films, and then moved to California where he joined the ‘Los Angeles Music Academy’ in Pasadena. With the stage name ‘Jericho,’ he recorded his own songs and released a solo album ‘Smoke Signals’ in 2008. Later he got a regular role of ‘Noah ‘Puck’ Puckerman’ in the ‘Fox TV’ series ‘Glee.’ The successful series brought him recognition, but after 5 seasons his role was changed from a regular one to a guest star. In 2010, he released his second album, ‘Pipe dreams’ under his own label, ‘Pipe Dreams Records.’ In 2013, he was charged with sexual battery, but he settled the case out of court. He was arrested in 2015 for possession of thousands of illegal images of child pornography. He pleaded guilty, but weeks before sentencing, he died due to asphyxia by hanging.
Childhood & Early Life
Salling was born on August 17, 1982, in Dallas, Texas, to John Robert Salling Jr. and Condy Sue Salling (née Wherry). His father was an accountant while his mother worked as a school secretary. Salling was the younger of the two children and had an elder brother, Matt. He grew up in a religious Christian family.
During early childhood he was home-tutored and later attended ‘Providence Christian School’ and ‘Our Redeemer Lutheran Elementary School.’ He played piano from the age of 5 and started writing songs when he was just 6-7 years old.
Salling joined the ‘Culvert Military Academy’ but did not complete graduation and later, during his teen years, studied at the ‘Lake Highlands Junior High and High School’ in Dallas and graduated in 2001. In the high school, he participated in contact games, such as wrestling, rugby, basketball, and also practiced guitar and the piano. Rock musician, Annie Clark or St. Vincent, was his schoolmate.
During his junior and senior years in high school, he performed in the school shows and also played at the local bars and joints. Besides, he attended acting workshops at the ‘Dallas Theater.’ This led to his first acting assignment.
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Salling began his career as a child artist in the horror movie – ‘Children of the Corn IV: The Gathering’ (1996). Three years later, he guest starred in an episode of ‘Walker: Texas Ranger.’ He also starred in the 2006 horror-suspense movie ‘Graveyard.’
Later he moved to California and joined ‘Los Angeles Music Academy’ in Pasadena, California, and earned his living by giving guitar lessons.
In 2008, he auditioned and was selected to play a regular character ‘Noah ‘Puck’ Puckerman’ on the ‘Fox Broadcasting Company’s’ 2009 TV series ‘Glee.’ Over the seasons, the series received a number of award nominations and one of its episodes registered record-breaking 13.6 million viewers and was claimed to be highest rated primetime series. Salling’s role of ‘Puck’ brought him fame and recognition.
He was a part of ‘Glee: The 3D Concert Movie’ in 2011. In 2013, it was announced that instead of appearing as a regular character, Salling would be seen as a guest star on the series. The show ended in 2015.
He released his debut album, ‘Smoke Signals,’ under the stage name ‘Jericho’ in February 2008. He wrote, produced the music, and sang the tracks of this album. He claimed to have been inspired by the music of Thom Yorke and Trent Reznor, and tried creating music in several genres, including jazz, country, pop, rock, and hip-hop. He could play different instruments, including the piano, guitar, bass and drums.
Salling released his second solo album, ‘Pipe dreams,’ on October 12, 2010, on his own label ‘Pipe dream Records,’ which he started in partnership with ‘Universal Music Group’ and ‘Fontana Distribution.’ He was the writer, producer and performer of each track in this album. The first single of the album, ‘Higher Power,’ was released in August 2010.
Salling was a part of the highly popular soundtracks of his show, ‘Glee,’ and his version of the song, ‘Sweet Caroline,’ was much appreciated. This song was included in ‘Glee: The Music, Vol. 1’ which recorded a platinum sale. During the show, he also rendered cover versions of other numbers, including ‘The Lady is a Tramp,’ ‘Just Give Me a Good Reason,’ ‘Beth,’ ‘Good Vibrations,’ ‘Run Joe Run,’ among others. He created a song video featuring the cast members of ‘Glee.’
During 2007-2010, Salling dated his co-star Naya Rivera and later got into a relationship with Roxanne Gorzela. In 2014 summer, he was dating the Nickelodeon actress Denyse Tontz. Salling was very close to his co-star, Cory Montieth, and his sudden death in 2013 from a drug overdose had an appalling impact on Salling. After the series ‘Glee’ ended in 2015, he was leading a reclusive life.
Apart from working on his music, he liked to maintain his fitness by playing basketball, Frisbee and weight-lifting. He was an amateur ornithologist and was a member of ‘Echo Park Ornithology Club’ in Los Angeles. He wrote a theme song for the club. He also did volunteer work with ‘James Hunt Wildlife Rescue Charity.’
Salling’s ex-girlfriend Roxanne Gorzella filed a case against him in January 2013, for carrying out sexual battery by forcing her to have unprotected sex without her consent. Denying her charges, he filed a defamation case against her. Later he settled the case out of court in March 2015 and was ordered by the judges to pay Roxanne Gorzella US$ 2.7 million.
Salling was arrested on December 29, 2015, at his home in Shadow hills, Los Angeles. One of his ex-girlfriends informed the police that he possessed child pornography photos and videos. He was released on a $20,000 bail. Later, a search warrant revealed more than 50,000 images of child pornography on his computer and USB flash drives. He was charged on May 27, 2016, with possession of child pornography and he pleaded guilty on September 30, 2017. On December 18, 2017, his guilty plea was formalized and he was to get 4 to 7 years of jail. Along with the prison sentence, he would have had to register as a sex offender and enter a treatment program. His sentencing was scheduled for March 2018.
On January 30, 2018, weeks before his court sentencing, he was found dead from asphyxia by hanging near his home in Sunland, Los Angeles.