by MAYA DAWIT
On Tuesday night, we said goodbye to Leslie Knope, Ron Swanson and the rest of the gang from Pawnee. And while we settled in to watch the series finale of Parks and Recreation, the show’s cast and crew were saying goodbye to one of their own. Harris Wittels, one of the producers, writers and frequent guest star on the series, died on February 19th from a suspected overdose.
News of Wittels’ death quickly spread over social media and lead to an outpouring of condolences from his former co-workers. Parks and Recreation star Amy Poehler, who played Leslie Knope, received word of Wittels’ death during the Unite4: Humanity award ceremony honoring her and eight other celebrities for their charity work. During her acceptance speech, Poehler said, “Today, I lost a friend. I lost a dear, young man in my life who was struggling with addiction and died.”
Other members of the cast shared similar sentiments. Aziz Ansari, who played the always fashion-forward Tom Haverford, took to his Tumblr to share his grief. He wrote an extensive post highlighting his friendship with Wittels, sharing stories of the two from over the years. Parks creator Michael Schur took to Twitter to say goodbye to Wittels.
Our show ends its run tomorrow, and I wish Harris were here to see it. Parks and Rec would not have been Parks and Rec without him.
— Ken Tremendous (@KenTremendous) February 23, 2015
Tuesday’s finale paid tribute to the lost star by ending the episode with a simple message.
Wittels was very public about his struggle with addiction. In November 2014, he appeared on the podcast You Made It Weird and spoke about his drug use, stating he began using drugs recreationally at 12.
Wittles told host Pete Holmes that he had just gotten out of rehab for the second time, this time to fight an addiction to heroin. The night before he died, Wittles was putting on a stand-up show at The Meltdown in Los Angeles. During his set, he told the crowd he was “in a good place” with his sobriety. Wittels was 30 years old.