Long-running TV drama series Chicago Fire is renowned for sparking emotion on screen. But the team behind the hit show recently revealed some news which proved to be heartbreaking in real-life too. Here’s why the NBC firefighting saga will never be the same again.
The first part of executive producer Dick Wolf’s ever-expanding Chicago franchise, Chicago Fire, was in fact created by Derek Haas and Michael Brandt. As its name suggests, the drama centers on Chicago Fire Department’s paramedic and firefighting staff as they protect and serve the city’s citizens. And in 2012 – just six months after NBC commissioned the show – it aired for the first time.
Even though the show is currently in its sixth season, Chicago Fire has consistently been a hit for the NBC network since its 2012 premiere. In fact, Nielsen ratings put its first season average at 7.78 million viewers; and by the fourth season that figure had climbed to 10.47 million. What’s more, a total of 137 episodes have aired.
Moreover, the show has also become famous for its many crossover storylines. There have been tie-ins with several of Dick Wolf’s further Chicago spin-offs including Chicago Justice, Chicago P.D. and Chicago Med. And there have also been a number of crossovers with Wolf’s other major franchise, Law and Order, specifically its Special Victims Unit show.
What’s more, the series isn’t short of stars. The show’s leads include Jesse Spencer as Captain Matthew Casey, Taylor Kinney as Lieutenant Kelly Severide and Lauren German as Paramedic Leslie Elizabeth Shay. Other major players who feature on the program are Monica Raymund, Charlie Barnett, David Eigenberg, Teri Reeves and Eamonn Walker. And the main cast is completed by Yuri Sardarov, Christian Stolte, Joe Minoso, Kara Killmer, Dora Madison Burge, Steven R. McQueen and Miranda Rae Mayo.
Chicago Fire also had an expansive wider cast too, including DuShon Monique Brown as Boden’s no-nonsense secretary Connie. Sadly, though, in March 2018 news emerged that the actress had died aged just 49. In a statement, Wolf told TV network channel E! News, “The Chicago Fire family is devastated to lose one of its own. Our thoughts and prayers are with DuShon’s family, and we will all miss her.”
And Brown’s manager, Robert Schroeder, also paid tribute to the star in an emotional statement. “We are devastated by the loss of a very talented and kindhearted soul,” he said. “DuShon was a film, television, commercial and voice-over actress who also graced the stages of many Chicago theaters. She brought laughter and joy to many and will be greatly missed.”
Brown’s close companion and one-time theater co-star Carla Stillwell had fond memories of her departed friend too, telling newspaper The Chicago Tribune, “She was a brilliant actor, but she was also so goofy. We used to get in so much trouble from the stage managers we worked with because we were cutting up so much. She was just a ham. And she was truly loved.”
It soon emerged, though, that just a week before her passing, Brown had checked herself into hospital with chest pains. However, after having undergone various tests, she was released. And the actress passed away at St. James Olympia Fields Hospital in Illinois. Her autopsy report has yet to be released, but natural causes have been widely reported as the reason for her untimely demise.
Prior to her starring role in Chicago Fire, Brown – who was born in Chicago, IL, in 1968 – graduated from Governors State University with a school counseling master’s degree. And as well as having taken various high school counseling positions, she also served as a drama tutor and became a regular on her hometown’s theater circuit. Then, in 2003 she made the leap from stage to screen with a performance in TV movie Skin Complex.
And just two years later, in 2005, Brown landed a regular role as Sara Tancredi’s nurse friend Katie Welch in Prison Break. Then she moved to the big screen with a minor role in Ron Howard comedy The Dilemma in 2011, and a year later showed up in rom-com One Small Hitch. The actress also guested as an inmate in political drama Boss, before joining the cast of Chicago Fire.
During her spell on Chicago Fire, Brown had guested on Shameless, Empire and Electric Dreams and even played Commander Roberta in TV movie Public Housing Unit. The star then returned to the big screen in 2015 with the role of Principal Clements in drama Unexpected. And her last two film parts were Cindy in A Light Beneath Their Feet and Shirley in Surprise Me!
Additionally, Brown appeared in a 2007 Frito Lay Super Bowl commercial with her daughter, Zoe. And the star has a number of theater credits to her name too, including Little Shop of Horrors, Love Child and Summertime. In fact, speaking to TV news website Hidden Remote in 2012, Brown described herself as “a goofy, geeky Chicagoan who plays the violin, likes karaoke, embraces the trees, loves to be appreciated for her work and dreams of playing a superhero in the movies.”
In fact, Brown continued to show up in Chicago Fire for several weeks after her death, having filmed several episodes in advance. But fans of the show soon started wondering how the character would eventually be written out. Co-creator Derek Haas then revealed all during his weekly Q&A on Twitter.
“It deserves a longer answer, but she meant a lot to us, it caught us off-guard,” Haas said. “We were ramping up our final episode storylines, so when we address it, it will be next season, and it will be something that we feel is appropriate… Connie the character is not DuShon, as much as there would never be a Connie without DuShon.”
Several Chicago Fire actors also paid tribute to their former co-star on Twitter too, including Jesse Spencer who said, “Our beautiful Dushon Monique Brown passed away on Friday. You will be sorely missed by your family and ourselves.” And Kara Killmer posted, “Your loving, kindness and understanding have been a safe place of great importance to me. I will always love you. I miss you.”
Yuri Sardarov, who portrays Brian Zvonecek in the hit drama, even set up a fundraiser page. The campaign aimed to help cover the costs of Brown’s funeral arrangements. Not only that, but it was also set up to provide short-term financial support for both her fiancé and her teenage daughter, Zoe.
And there was an incredible response from Chicago Fire fans to the GoFundMe effort set up by Sardarov. In fact, by the time the campaign drew to a close, it had raised a whopping $24,385. This was nearly $15,000 over its revised target.
Brown was also honored with a closing message in the first Chicago Fire episode aired after her death. The screened caption simply read “In Memory of Dushon Monique Brown, 1968-2018.” Fans who only learned of the news via the title card then rushed to Twitter to offer their condolences.
And, a month after Brown’s death, a memorial service for her was held in Glen Ellyn, Illinois. Then the sixth season of Chicago Fire concluded just a few weeks later. The show has yet to be renewed for a seventh by NBC at the time of writing, but insiders believe that there will be at least one more helping of firefighting drama.