Actress Jessica Campbell, best known for the film Election and TV series Freaks and Geeks, has died at age 38. According to reports from a family member, Campbell went to the bathroom on December 29 in her Portland, Oregon, home and was found there unconscious by her aunt and mother. The aunt tried to resuscitate Jessica but was unsuccessful - as were EMTs who arrived on the scene. According to Campbell's family (via TMZ), Jessica had complained of having congestion and a possible cold previous to her collapse but had not suspected that COVID-19 infection was a risk. The autopsy results have yet to be made public.
Jessica Campbell's time in Hollywood was brief but impactful. After getting her breakout in the TV movie In the Best Interest of the Children in 1992, she got to star in Election alongside Reese Witherspoon and Matthew Broderick, playing one of the few teenaged LGBTQ+ characters with a major arc in a film. She would go on to star in Freaks and Geeks for a two-episode arc, with another role in the 2001 film adaptation of The Safety of Objects.
After her time onscreen, Jessica Campbell had reportedly become a naturopathic physician with her own practice. A Go Fund Me memorial has been started in Jessica's name, in order to benefit her 10-year-old son, Oliver:
"On 12/29/2020 our dear Jessica suddenly and unexpectedly passed away, leaving behind her 10-year-old son, Oliver. While coping with this unexpected and tragic turn of events and planning for Oliver’s future, the family is also faced with unexpected cremation, memorial, and probate expenses. All funds collected will go towards meeting expenses and providing for Oliver."
In Election Campbell played Tammy Metzler, the younger sister of popular football star Paul Metzler (Chris Klein). Tammy's girlfriend breaks up with her in order to manage Paul's campaign for student president; that heartbreak sends Tammy on a revenge path of running her own nihilistic political campaign. In a darkly funny turn, Tammy used a campaign violation by Tracy (Witherspoon) to get herself expelled from school, and enrolled in an all-girls catholic school (which Tammy loves).
If you've never watched it, Election remains one of the cult-hit gems of the 1999 (best?) year in movies, which has only gained a bigger following over time. Its dark, satirical take on politics and controversial ideas like student-teacher sexual relationships seem impossible to make in today's cancel-culture landscape. Tammy's LGBTQ+ story arc was just one of the boundary-pushing elements that have made Election an enduring cult-hit.
You can donate to the Jessica Campbell Memorial fund HERE.