On October 12, 1984, Jon-Erik Hexum was on the 20th Century Fox stage #18, filming for Cover Up (1984). Between scenes, while the director of photography and crew set up camera positions and lighting for the final day's scene of a very long filming schedule, Hexum took his usual break and decided to stay on the bed, where he practiced loading blanks into a revolver on a night stand. The prop master assistant talked with Hexum as Hexum held the pistol in his hand, spinning the cartridge, acting as if he was planning a game of Russian Roulette. The UPM came into the set and announced an additional scene. The film crew had been very lucky with all of the day's scheduled scenes, and had been looking forward to finishing early. Hexum was handing the gun to the assistant prop master when Hexum suddenly pulled the gun back, raised his hand holding the pistol, pointed it at his temple, said "Oh well, what the Hell!" and pulled the trigger. The pistol fired, and wadding from the blank cartridge shattered his skull. The special effects foreman ran onto the set and tried to open Hexum's clenched jaw to get much-needed air into his lungs. He applied a towel to the actor's head wound. The actor was placed onto an emergency wood stretcher, loaded into a studio station wagon, and rushed through the studio gate and across the street to Century City Hospital's Emergency Room. Jon-Erik Hexum was declared brain-dead on October 18, 1984. He was removed from life support, and his organs were harvested for transplant. The film crew never recovered from the loss of their friend and "star".
Both male leads died young. Jon-Erik Hexum died of an accidental self-inflicted gunshot wound on October 18, 1984, at age 26. Antony Hamilton died of AIDS-related pneumonia on March 29, 1995, at the age of 42.
Ironically, Jennifer O'Neill herself suffered from an accidental self-inflicted gun shot wound in 1982. While in her home, she was checking to see if a .38 pistol was loaded when the weapon discharged into her abdomen. She was transported to the hospital where she underwent surgery, and went on to make a full recovery.