A Budding Actor’s Fatal Joke

In 1982, Jon-Erik Hexum landed the role of Phineas Bogg in NBC’s time-travel series Voyagers. It brought the 6’1”, 200-lb. Hexum to the attention of Joan Collins, and his career took off. Unfortunately, his career was short-lived. On Oct. 12, 1984, the 26-year-old, who played Green Beret-turned-model Mac Harper in Cover Up — a series about international intrigue and fashion photography — had been napping during delays in filming. After learning there would be still more delays, Hexum held the .44 Magnum pistol used in the series to his head — reportedly joking, ”Can you believe this crap?” — and pulled the trigger. Although the prop gun was loaded with blanks, the impact from the blast fractured Hexum's skull, driving a bone fragment the size of a quarter into his brain and causing massive hemorrhaging. He was rushed to the Beverly Hills Medical Center, where, despite five hours of surgery, he remained comatose until he was pronounced brain-dead on Oct. 18 and was taken off life support.