Every body has a story.
Every body has a story.
Affiliate Disclosure: if there are Amazon affiliate links or other affiliate links in this article and you buy something through one of these links, I may earn a commission. It will not increase the cost of your purchase. Thanks!
May 28, 1970—December 3, 2002
Content warning: this article contains potentially disturbing content, including references to death, divorce, physical fighting, and drug abuse. Please use your best judgment as to whether you wish to read this content. Language is PG-13.
Glenn Martin Quinn was born on May 28, 1970, in Dublin, Ireland, UK, to Murty and Bernadette (née Brady) Quinn. If the name Murty Quinn sounds familiar to you, it’s probably because he was a trombonist and vocalist with Irish musical groups Miami Showband, followed by The Sands, for over a decade.
Quinn had many siblings/half-siblings. My count is four, but I might have missed some. He grew up with his two older sisters in Cabinteely, County Dublin. As a teen he attended Clonkeen College, a Christian boys’ school in Blackrock, County Dublin. (Language lesson for US readers: in this instance, “college” is not what Americans call a college, but what Americans call a high school.) Having inherited his parents’ love for music, as a child he dreamed of following in his father’s footsteps. He did play the drums, but he never really pursued the idea of making a career of it.
[Quinn’s brother situation is thus: 1. At some point in the history of the world, Quinn’s mother gave birth to another son, Ciaran, who she put up for adoption. It makes sense that this child was born before Quinn, but I don’t know for sure. Ciaran never knew he had a brother until after Quinn had passed away. 2. Quinn’s father’s FaceBook page includes several references to/photographs of a young man named Mark, who he calls his son. Using my amazing powers of deductive reasoning, I surmised that Mark was Quinn’s half-brother.]
After graduation Quinn moved with his mother and two sisters to the Long Beach area of Los Angeles, California, where they had family. The fact that his father did not join them there is a pretty clear indication that his parents had split up by then. One source appears to confirm this by claiming that Quinn had a difficult time adjusting to his parents’ breakup, and that even before he had moved from Ireland he had started to use drugs to cope with his life situation.
After the foursome had settled into their Southern California accommodations, Quinn set about looking for a job. He tried working at a power plant, a restaurant (as a waiter), and another place or two (in unspecified fields of employment). According to him, many people suggested he try to get into acting because he was “a bit of an ‘eejit.’” I don’t know if they meant he wasn’t skilled to do anything else or if they thought it was a useful trait in the profession. One of the people who suggested he pursue acting was his girlfriend at the time, who “was in a TV show.” He didn’t reveal her name, or if she was one of the people who thought he was an “eejit.”
Legend has it that Quinn had a cameraman cousin who often worked on movies, and Quinn occasionally visited him on the job. While watching the activities there, Quinn figured that acting was a job he could handle (apparently he was one of the few aspiring actors who hadn’t performed in school plays).
It didn’t take him long to get work in the business. Allegedly he appeared in the pool room scene in Richard Marx’s 1989 “Satisfied” music video (it’s hard to tell for sure—all of the guys in that scene look pretty much like Quinn). Also allegedly, he appeared in some television commercials—specifically, for Pepsi (cola), Ray Ban (sunglasses), and Brylcreem (hair goop).
When Quinn began auditioning for parts, he chose to speak with an American accent instead of his natural Irish brogue. He did such a good job of it that most of his fans didn’t even realize he wasn’t American until he had been in the business for close to 10 years.
Career-wise 1990 was a breakout year for Quinn. His first credited acting job (if you want to call it that) was the pivotal role of Party Jock 1 in the pilot episode of Beverly Hills, 90210. Apparently he had auditioned many times each for two of the lead teenage male roles in the show, but ultimately was passed over in favor of Jason Priestly and Ian Ziering. Quinn’s consolation prize was his two-line role in the pilot.
Quinn’s next two jobs were more substantial than the first—the second and third television characters he portrayed had actual names (Mark in one episode of the immensely popular situation comedy Roseanne (affiliate link) and Johnny in one episode of the not-quite-as-popular situation comedy Bagdad Cafe). Also in 1990 he appeared in two made-for-television movies: Call Me Anna, based on Patty Duke’s autobiography of the same name (he portrayed real-life Academy Award-winning actor/dancer/handsome-guy George Chakiris), and the thriller Silhouette, which starred Faye Dunaway.
In 1991 he made his feature film debut, playing Alan in Shout (affiliate link), a lesser known John Travolta movie. Quinn had his first on-screen kiss in this film, locking lips with none other than future Academy/Golden Globe/others-too-numerous-to-mention Award-winner Gwyneth Paltrow. It was also her first feature film and on-screen kiss. Because of this role (in a big screen production alongside a big-time movie star), Quinn’s acting career finally received his mother’s seal of approval.
Also in 1991, his one-episode stint as Mark Healy on Roseanne turned into a recurring role, and he appeared in another 74 episodes between 1991 and the show’s finale in 1997. It was rumored that Mark was just supposed to be a one-and-done character, but the powers that be decided to bring him back. Whether they chose to do that because the character was liked by the audience, or whether they decided at some point to bulk up the character’s story line, is unclear. It is obvious, though, that the aforementioned PTB felt Quinn was the best man for the job, because they had had no problem recasting the series-regular role of DJ after the pilot episode was filmed.
While holding down his Roseanne job, Quinn was also signed on as one of the leads in the 1992 hour-long “lighthearted” drama television series Covington Cross. It was an American Broadcasting Company-funded show that featured British actors and was filmed in England. Since Roseanne was filmed in the US and Covington Cross was filmed in the UK, Quinn racked up a lot of frequent flyer miles that year. Covington Cross was canceled after 13 episodes had been produced, but only seven of them were aired in the US, and only the pilot episode was aired in the UK.
Quinn managed to fit in even more work projects during his time working on Roseanne, including several video game voice-overs. He also became part-owner of a Los Angeles bar called Goldfingers in late 1996. The Los Angeles Times printed a review of the place in early 1997, and their critique was mildly complimentary.
After Roseanne ended, Quinn went to Ireland for a visit. For unknown reasons, the visit did not go well, and it caused Quinn to lose some of the control he had over his drug use. (Michael Fishman, who played DJ on Roseanne in all episodes but the pilot, stated that Quinn didn’t exhibit any drug-related problems while working on the show and had always behaved professionally.) Sometime after his return to his new home from his visit to his old home, Quinn was bought out of Goldfingers by his partners because of some of the things he would do there, including asking friends and strangers for money and getting into physical altercations. It is unclear exactly when the buyout occurred.
Quinn’s career then hit a dry spell, and he only had one acting job in 1998—in the feature film Some Girl. In 1999 he got another big break when he was hired to play series regular Allen Doyle in the vampire-centric hour-long television drama Angel (affiliate link). Quinn was especially pleased with the opportunity, because after they hired him they made the character Irish (Doyle had originally been envisioned as an American). The change made sense, especially since the Angel character himself was of Irish descent—although actor David Boreanaz spoke with his natural American accent in the role. Go figure. Quinn said it was the first time in his career he could speak his lines the way he naturally spoke (although occasionally he needed to rerecord his dialogue because his accent was a little too “authentic” for some viewers to understand.)
During the first season of the show Quinn appeared in nine episodes (not counting episodes that contained only archive footage of his character, or the “unaired” pilot of the show, which was eventually aired in 2003). His last appearance on Angel was in the episode titled “Hero,” in which his character was killed off in a “for the greater good” plot line. The official story was that executive producer Joss Whedon had planned from the start to terminate a main character early in the show’s run. Unofficially people said that Quinn’s drug use, specifically alcohol and cocaine, was causing un-ignorable problems on the set.
After his time on Angel ended, Quinn had just a few other gigs—including a few appearances as recurring character Joshua St. John on the Irish soap opera Fair City. Quinn’s appearances must have been some of the few highlights of the series, because according to viewer reviews, the acting is generally abysmal…lacking. The show must have something going for it though, because it began in 1989 and is still on the air today. (I watched 10-15 minutes of a random episode, and I didn’t think it was bad—but I’m no expert.)
Quinn was reportedly homeless during the latter part of 2002 and relied on the kindness of friends for indoor accommodations. He had entered drug rehab sometime near the end of November (possibly not for the first time), but was reportedly kicked out in early December for using drugs. On December 3, 2002—exactly one month after his last Fair City appearance aired—Quinn was found dead on a friend’s couch. It was eventually determined that his cause of death was an accidental heroin overdose.
Quinn’s death stunned his family, friends, and fans. Former castmate Michael Fishman’s comments pretty much summed up how they were feeling: “I was shocked and devastated when Glenn passed away. You have to understand—Glenn was like a spotlight of a man, he could cut through the darkest moment and light things up.”
Quinn’s final resting place is in Forest Lawn Cemetery, Cypress, California, in their Garden of Protection section. He’s not too far away from rockabilly star Eddie Cochran.
Engraved on his headstone is the traditional Irish blessing:
May the road rise to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
And rain fall soft upon your fields
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the hollow of His hand.
If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction or depression, please call your regional or national substance abuse and mental health helpline. In the United States, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration’s 24/7 National Helpline is 1-800-662-HELP (4357).