The That ’70s Show cast has experienced an exceptionally high post-sitcom success percentage overall. Aside from Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher, other actors including Topher Grace, Danny Masterson, Laura Prepon, Wilmer Valderrama, and Topher Grace continue to make appearances in television shows and motion pictures. It’s the ideal situation for a Hollywood support system, which makes their co-star Lisa Robin Kelly’s descent into drug and alcohol abuse and eventual death all the more depressing.
In order to attend high school, Lisa Robin Kelly travelled from Southington, Connecticut, where she was born on March 5, 1970, to Sylvania, Ohio. Her childhood was remembered as being cheerful by her family and friends. She appeared to be close to her parents and was a cheerleader. She continued to make the trip back east for Christmas even after relocating to California to pursue her acting career.
Kelly was detained by North Carolina authorities in 2010 for drunk driving. She entered a guilty plea, paid a penalty, and completed a year of unsupervised probation. For a while, it appeared as though this placed her on the straight and narrow, but in March 2012, she was detained in Los Angeles on charges of felony marital abuse. John Michas, her roommate and ex-boyfriend, asserted that she had assaulted him. Upon posting a $50,000 bond, she was freed.
Kelly told ABC News that she had been sober for months and that the accusations against her were “all a bunch of made up garbage.” (Her mug shot suggests the opposite.) In addition, she pledged that the hardship had only made her stronger and that her career would soon resume. However, by November of that same year, Kelly, then 42, had wed Robert Joseph Gilliam, 61, and the two of them were taken into custody in North Carolina after police were called to a disturbance call at their residence. Following their alleged altercation, Kelly requested a divorce, obtained a restraining order against Gilliam, and tweeted on June 23, 2013, “Both charged with assaulting one another.” “I am finally free at last, and I am having a wonderful day. LMFAO. I HAVE OFFICIALLY ENDED MY WEDDING.”
That tweet’s tragic irony is that she had been detained the previous evening on suspicion of DUI. Kelly was still inside the car when police arrived in response to a call about a motorist blocking a lane of traffic by parking on the motorway.
In 1994, Kelly’s career began to take off. Before getting bigger roles in Married with Children and Poltergeist: The Legacy, a short-lived television series based on the movie franchise, she booked modest one-episode roles in Silk Stalkings, Days of Our Lives, and Murphy Brown, among others. She played a high school student who, as a result of a rare alignment of the planets, develops hazardous telekinetic abilities in an episode of The X-Files that also starred a young Ryan Reynolds.
Kelly’s breakthrough performance as Laurie Forman on That ’70s Show in 1998 opened doors for her in a variety of other projects, including Jawbreaker, Charmed, and numerous made-for-TV movies. She appeared to be living the Hollywood dream with a successful comedy and several offers.
Kelly’s decline from series regular to being fully written out by the end of season three of That ’70s Show in 2001 was the first warning sign of her substance usage issues. Kelly later clarified that the reason for her leaving was her drinking rather than the rumours that she had a drug problem. When Laurie returned to the show in season five, she temporarily repaired her relationship with the producers; regrettably, by season six, things had deteriorated once more, and Christina Moore, a MADtv graduate, had taken over Kelly’s position.
Kelly worked seldom after leaving That ’70s Show. She acknowledged that she damaged relationships on the show in an interview with ABC News from 2012 and blamed her drinking issue on an unsuccessful pregnancy.
Wrongful death suit
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Kelly’s estranged husband, Robert Gilliam, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the facility and its owners, James and Marcia Burnett, following Kelly’s enigmatic death at Pax House. Gilliam said in the lawsuit, which was brought on July 10, 2014, that Pax House was negligent because its staff was “improperly prepared to care for individuals such as his wife.”
Due to “the loss of love, affection, society, comfort, support…expectations of future support and counselling, companionship, solace and mental support, as well as other advantages and help,” Gilliam requested “unspecified damages” from his deceased wife. Westside Today reported in September 2017 that Gilliam’s attorney had verified the actor had settled with Pax House but would not provide the financial details.
Kelly entered the Pax Rehab House in Altadena, California, around two months following her DUI arrest in 2013. She was 43 years old when she passed away in her sleep on August 15, 2013, a few days later. Although the reason of death wasn’t immediately clear, authorities didn’t suspect any wrongdoing. A few months later, the Los Angeles coroner’s office issued a statement claiming that Kelly’s death was due to an unidentified oral “multiple drug intoxication” that occurred accidentally.
At the time, her separated husband, Gilliam, blamed her partner for her relapse, saying that “she contacted me 22 times to get away from him” in the two weeks prior to her passing. Kelly’s issue was brought on by years of physical and emotional abuse from Gilliam, the lover shot back. Although we’ll never fully understand the circumstances, the outcome is the same: a life that had the potential to be great was cut short far too soon.
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