“My favorite duet partner. I love you. I miss you,” Riley wrote on Instagram, sharing a video of Rivera and her son Josey singing. “I don’t have words right now, just lots of feelings. Rest In Peace Angel, and know that your family will never have to worry about anything.” (Read more tributes from the Glee cast.)
Riley and Rivera played onetime rivals Mercedes Jones and Santana Lopez on the Fox comedy, which ended its six-year run in 2015. Their characters eventually became good friends, and Mercedes performed the Etta James classic “At Last” during Santana and Brittany’s final-season wedding. (See our list of Rivera’s best Glee performances.)
Rivera was first reported missing last Wednesday after renting a boat on California’s Lake Piru to go swimming with her four-year-old son Josey. The boy was found alone in the boat, with no sign of Rivera, and a search ensued. Her body was recovered on Monday.
After Glee went off the air in 2015, Rivera played housemaid Blanca Alvarez on Lifetime’s Devious Maids, along with a guest voice role on American Dad! and a guest judge appearance on RuPaul’s Drag Race. She also recurred on the YouTube dance series Step Up: High Water and was set to star in the show’s upcoming third season after it was revived by Starz.
Watch a memorable Santana/Mercedes performance from Glee Season 1 below: