Inside ‘Glee’ Stars Naya Rivera and Mark Salling’s Whirlwind Romance

Glee fans’ hearts are shattered once more after learning that one of the show’s stars, Naya Rivera, has died following a boat trip with her 4-year-old son.

The actor’s death is the latest tragedy to strike the Glee cast as two of the show’s stars have passed away in recent years, including Mark Salling, who Rivera previously dated on-and-off for three years.

Mark Salling and Naya Rivera
Mark Salling and Naya Rivera | Michael Buckner/Getty Images for InStyle

Naya Rivera and Mark Salling dated for three years

Rivera and Salling met after they both landed starring roles on Fox’s hit musical comedy-drama, Glee. Rivera played popular cheerleader Santana Lopez while Salling portrayed Finn Hudson’s best friend and football teammate, Noah “Puck” Puckerman.

After striking up a connection on set, the actors went on their first date right before Halloween in 2009, which Rivera later claimed didn’t bode well for their relationship.

In her 2016 memoir, Sorry Not Sorry: Dreams, Mistakes and Growing Up, the child actor claimed that Salling picked her up in “a complete piece-of-sh*t car with trash just rolling around in the backseat,” got stoned, took her to In-N-Out, and then to Fright Fest at Magic Mountain where he took a ton of photos with fans and none with her.

Mark Salling and Naya Rivera
Mark Salling and Naya Rivera | Michael Buckner/Getty Images

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Still, the pair formed a bond that soon turned into a full-blown romance that lasted for the next three years. But despite being an official couple, Salling’s publicist urged him to keep their relationship a secret to preserve his heartthrob image.

Though Rivera agreed to keep their romance under wraps, she noted in her book, “I had a feeling his pretending to be single had less to do with his publicist and more to do with his d*ck.”

It wasn’t long before Rivera’s suspicions were confirmed when her fellow Glee castmates told her that Salling had cheated on her with another woman.

After learning of her co-star’s infidelity, Rivera and her best friend, Madison, dumped “dog food, Coca-Cola, eggs, and birdseed” all over his car while he was away for a few days. In 2010, Salling ended their relationship.

Naya Rivera didn’t regret any of her exes, expect Mark Salling

Though Rivera claimed in her book that she generally didn’t regret any of her relationships, she did admit that her romance with Salling was one she’s happy didn’t continue on.

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at this point we just vibin y'all

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In her memoir, the actor shared that she wasn’t sorry her relationship with Salling didn’t work out, especially after he was indicted on child pornography charges in 2016.

“When Mark dumped me, I thought it was the worst thing ever, but can you imagine if that didn’t happen? And I was laying there in bed when the battering ram came through the door?” Rivera wrote, before noting that every relationship, good or bad, is a learning experience.

“I think everyone should have that one relationship where you look back and ask yourself, ‘What the hell was I thinking?’ You’ll learn something and you won’t regret it,” she continued. “Unless, of course, that relationship was with someone who had a sizable stash of child porn on his computer. Then, by all means, regret everything.”

Both actors’ lives were cut too short

Salling and Rivera may have been part of one of the happiest shows on TV, but unfortunately, the series has been surrounded by a string of tragedies.

Two years after he was busted on child pornography charges, Salling tragically died in a suicide by hanging, just one month before his sentencing trial.

Rivera never commented on his passing.

On July 13, 2020, Rivera’s body was discovered at Lake Piru in Ventura Country, California, five days after she disappeared during a lake trip with her young son. She has officially been declared dead at the age of 33.

Both strategies come after the passing of Cory Monteith, who played Finn Hudson on Glee. The actor died of an apparent drug overdose in a Canadian hotel room in 2013. He was only 31.