I interviewed Sage in 2006 when I was a features writer for a daily newspaper (The Press-Enterprise) and I annually covered the Palm Springs International Film Festival. Sage's short film "Vic" played the festival.
"All my life I've been into film and following the careers of actors who once their contracts expired they were nowhere to be found," Sage said in that interview. "It always intrigued me and bothered me at the same time." Some of those actors died in near-poverty, some took roles in low-budget horror films to get by.
Because he knew actors like that he said he sometimes had trouble watching his own film. "It makes me sad," he said. "It affects my soul."
Sage paid his own dues as an actor and an assistant to cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond. When he was only 19 he used his earnings from film work to purchase the rights to horror classics, which he re-mastered and presented uncut on DVD. He was passionate about film.
I'm disturbed by conjecture about whether his death was suicide or drug overdose. I don't pretend to know the answer, but I do know the person I talked to was vibrant and compassionate and had a whole lot to offer the world.
My thoughts are with his family and friends.