Sat 17 Dec, 2005 07:20 am
Sad news for fans of "The West Wing" and this very fine actor.
Actor John Spencer dies at 58
John Spencer, who played Leo McGarry on NBC's political drama "The West Wing," died yesterday of a heart attack in a Los Angeles hospital, his publicist said. He would have turned 59 next week.
Spencer won an Emmy in 2002 for his role as McGarry, who was the right-hand man to President Jeb Bartlet, played by Martin Sheen. Ironically, his character had suffered a heart attack that forced him to give up his White House job. This season, McGarry was running for vice president.
"John was a wonderful actor, a pleasure to work with and a true gentleman, but most importantly, a generous and gracious friend," executive producer John Wells said in a statement. "He will be missed by everyone who ever had the great fortune to know him."
Before "The West Wing," Spencer was best known for playing quirky attorney Tommy Mullaney on the hit drama "L.A. Law."
Born John Speshock, Spencer grew up in Paterson, N.J., the son of a truck driver and a waitress. He got his start in acting at the Professional Children's School in Manhattan, where he was in classes with Liza Minnelli. He then went West, landing a recurring role in the classic TV series "The Patty Duke Show."
Returning to New York, he started working on stage. He appeared in Off- and on-Broadway productions such as "Frankie & Johnny in the Clair de Lune," "The Day Room" and "A Still Life." His big-screen credits include "The Negotiator," "Twilight," "Sea of Love" and "Presumed Innocent."
An NBC spokesman said no decisions have been made on how to handle Spencer's death on "The West Wing."
I am more shocked by the fact that firefly has vacated the gaming threads to make this announcement than I am by Spencer's death.
I guess I must venture out more, to spare you the shock, gus. :wink:
Just shows you how much I admired Mr. Spencer's work, both on "The West Wing" and on "L.A. Law".
How eerie that his West Wing character also suffered a heart attack last year.
It would be logical to kill off the character now. It would allow the cast and fans to really mourn the actor as well.
They'll have to replace his character with another V.P. choice on the Santos ticket, but this might lead to some interesting plot twists. Because Spencer's character had had serious heart problems last year, this might be a relatively easy transition for the writers to make.
He was an exceptionally fine character actor. I will really miss seeing him.
I'm sorry to see you taking this so hard. To tell you the truth, I've never watched the show.
I watch the show occasionally, and I am shocked.
Spencer palyed the same wonderful character in both LA Law, which I watched all the time, and the West Wing, which I wish I would get to watch more.
When I first saw him, I got to thinking-considering his age, where the heck has this guy been? If an actor is good, chances are you've chanced across him in guest shots, failed shows, somewhere. It is not unusual for an excellent performer to spring from the seeming unknown in his/her thirties. To come from out of nowhere well into the forties is unusual.
When I found out that he played a part in the squeaky clean Patty Duke Show, I had to admit I had a laugh. He reminds me of another fine actor who later in life took intellectually interesting roles, Richard Crenna. Crenna went from being the nerdy teenager in Our Miss Brooks, to disappearing, to emerging as a mature, thoughtful character decades later. Makes you wonder what they did in between.
Spencer will be missed.