Jon-Erik Hexum, a handsome, strapping actor who had starred in the series Voyagers! (1982-1983), in the pecsploitation classique TV flick Making of a Male Model with an overheated Joan Collins (b. 1933), and in the Bear Bryant (1913-1983) bipioc The Bear (1984), would have turned 60 today, November 5.
Sadly, while goofing around on the set of his action series Cover Up (1984) on October 12, 1984, a series on which he starred with Jennifer O'Neill (b. 1948), he gravely injured himself by pretending to shoot himself in the head with a prop gun. (Catch O'Neill in a 2016 interview here.)
The charge from the gun's blank drove a piece of his skull into his brain, rendering him brain-dead.
He passed away days later, on October 18, at just 26 years old.
During his brief time in the spotlight, Hexum had done very little other acting.
In 1983, he was among a slew of Hollywood hunks who appeared (as himself) on Betty White's (b. 1922) game show Just Men!
His only acting credit outside the ones already named was an episode of Hotel called "Tomorrows" (January 11, 1984) that co-starred real-life date mate Emma Samms (b. 1960); fellow gone-too-soon actor Timothy Patrick Murphy (1959-1988), who later died of AIDS; and series star Anne Baxter (1923-1985), who would also be declared brain-dead following a stroke on the streets of NYC the following year.
Though he wasn't around long, Hexum developed a cult following of fans who called themselves Hex-Nuts, and who acquired all the information they could from the people in his life during his years as an actor and from before he arrived in Hollywood. Rumors (hopeful?) of his sexual orientation abounded, but they were rumors his family found distasteful and discouraged.
At the time of his death, Hexum was seeing pop singer E.G. Daily (b. 1961), who went on to a successful career as a voice artist, and who was pictured in the hospital during the time when doctors had been struggling to save Hexum's life.
When he died, his organs were donated to save the lives of several other people, including that of Michael Washington, a pimp and credit-card con artist who received Hexum's heart:
Hexum was a gifted pianist, a natural athlete and was devoted to the craft of acting. We'll never know how far he might've gone — maybe he'd have become the next James Bond or the next Superman — but he certainly had the looks of a movie star.