Teen Beat, Tiger Beat, 16, Bop: these tween rags introduced us to all our first crushes. Every Tuesday, we remember the dudes that decorated our photo binders. This week, we remember the late, great, Jonathan Brandis.
Name: Jonathan Gregory Brandis
We Called Him: Jonathan Brandis — always the two names together.
How Old Would He Be Today: 37 (Born April 13, 1979; died November 12, 2003 at 27)
Claims to Fame: While Jonathan had film roles as early as age 6 — he was a child model even before that — his breakout role was probably in The Neverending Story II: The Next Chapter.
After that, his career exploded. Jonathan was featured in so many tween rag pull-outs that you could wallpaper with his face. We've seen it happen.
Besides his heartthrob status — or compounding his heartthrob status — Jonathan is best-known for his role on seaQuest DSV.
Why We Loved Him: Let's make one thing absolutely clear: there was no not loving Jonathan Brandis. Sidekicks, despite starring Chuck Norris (Walker, Texas Ranger himself!), would have been nothing if it weren't for Jonathan and his asthma-chic. We might not still be talking about seaQuest DSV if not for him.
There's still this mysticism surrounding the spectre of Jonathan Brandis. We loved him because we loved him. He seeped into our consciousness slowly, in roles like DJ's first boyfriend in Full House, or as the catalyst of the hos-before-bros episode of Blossom, or as the cross-dressing secret soccer weapon in Ladybugs.
"I never perceived myself like this — a teen magazine kid," he said in a 1994 interview. At this time, he was receiving around 4,000 pieces of fan mail a day, and had to be escorted into the studio by three security guards.
Of course, that humility only made him cuter, and Jonathan went in to define the Teen Beat idol like no celeb had before. He was even voted #1 dreamboat in Tiger Beat.
That said, it didn't hurt at all that he was a good actor. "He has the talent to be an actor of substance," wrote one critic of his seaQuest role. It was that talent that allowed us to dismantle our hearts and lovingly repair them in films that we otherwise would not have cared about. Like Sidekicks. It always comes back to Sidekicks.
What Happened to Him: After seaQuest ended in 1996, Jonathan's work was limited. He did one last piece of voicework as Mozenrath in the ongoing Aladdin franchise — a character he'd voiced since 1994. Trying to find work, he did a slew of mediocre TV and direct-to-video movies, including Bad Girls From Valley High, which also starred Breaking Bad's Aaron Paul.
When Jonathan landed a role in Hart's War, starring Bruce Willis, it seemed like his adult career was finally about to start — but in the final edit, all of Jonathan's scenes were cut. One year and a handful of TV projects later, Jonathan had died.
"Speculations as to the underlying cause of this tragedy are exactly that: speculations. It serves no purpose to leap to conclusions for none of us will really know what led Jonathan to his decision to take his life," said Paul Peterson, president of child actor advocacy organization A Minor Consideration, to E! Online at the time of Jonathan's death. It's a good reminder that whatever was going through Jonathan's head at the end of his life was personal, and he did amazing work while he was here.