Jon-Erik Hexum (November 5, 1957 – October 18, 1984) was an American actor and model, best known for accidentally killing himself on the set of Cover Up, a television series in which he was a central cast member.
Born to Norwegian immigrant parents, he was the star of the science fiction series Voyagers!, which aired on NBC during the 1982–83 television season. He also appeared in made for television movies The Bear and Making of a Male Model co-starring Joan Collins and Roxie Roker, and in an episode of Hotel, before being cast in the action series Cover Up.
Only a few days after graduation, he moved to New York in 1980 in order to pursue his acting career. While working cleaning venetian blinds in offices, he met Bob LeMond of LeMond/Zetter Management, the manager of John Travolta, who saw great potential in Hexum. LeMond asked him to move to Los Angeles in 1981 in order to audition for a movie called Summer Lovers, directed by Randal Kleiser. Even though Hexum lost the part to Peter Gallagher, he was soon cast as the lead in the upcoming NBC TV show Voyagers!
Voyagers! saw two time travelers, Hexum and the young Jeffrey Jones - played by child actor Meeno Peluce - fixing history when problems arose. The stories involved figures like Spartacus, Harriet Tubman, Charles Lindbergh, Abraham Lincoln, Charles Dickens, Joe Louis, and others as the pair tried to put history back on track. The program was a form of edutainment and was sponsored by Scholastic magazine. The series only lasted one season, mainly because it was shown during the same time-slot as the popular television show 60 Minutes.
During his time in L.A., Hexum worked as a nightclub door man, cab driver and carpet cleaner to pay the bills. After a promotion tour which he financed himself, Hexum was cast for the movie Making of a Male Model with Joan Collins in 1983. He played a ranchhand who is invited by a modeling agent (Collins) to move to New York and pursue a modeling career. The film was Hexum’s breakthrough, but it also labeled him as a hunk and sex symbol, much to his dismay. After being considered for various television projects he eventually accepted a leading role in the television show Cover Up, where he played a former model turned weapons expert and undercover CIA agent. During the weekends, he was promoting the movie The Bear about college football coach Paul "Bear" Bryant, in which he had a short, but well reviewed, part.
Hexum was rushed to the Beverly Hills Medical Center where he underwent five hours of surgery to repair his wounds.On October 18, six days after the accident, Hexum was declared brain dead. Hexum's mother Greta allowed his body, still connected to life support, to be flown to San Francisco for organ transplants. Hexum's heart was then implanted into a then 36-year old Las Vegas escort service owner who was awaiting a heart transplant.Hexum's kidneys and corneas were also harvested and placed in organ transplant banks before his body was flown back to Los Angeles for autopsy and burial.
Four weeks after Hexum's death, Cover Up resumed airing without Hexum's character, Mac Harper, who was killed in action. The return episode also featured a tribute to Hexum.Actor Antony Hamilton eventually replaced Hexum, but Cover Up was canceled after one season.
|1982||Voyager from the Unknown||Phineas Bogg|
|1982-1983||Voyagers!||Phineas Bogg||TV, 20 episodes|
|1983||Making of a Male Model||Tyler Burnett||Television movie|
|1984||Hotel||Prince Erik||TV, 1 episode|
|The Bear||Pat Trammell|
|Cover Up||Mac Harper||TV, 7 episodes|