John Spencer (actor)

John Spencer (actor)

Infobox Actor
name = John Spencer

caption = John Spencer
birthname = John Speshock
birthdate = birth date|1946|12|20|df=y
birthplace = Paterson, New Jersey, USA
deathdate = death date and age|2005|12|16|1946|12|20
deathplace = Los Angeles, California, USA
othername =
yearsactive = 1983-2005
spouse =
homepage =
occupation = Actor
emmyawards = Outstanding Supporting Actor - Drama Series
2002 "The West Wing"
sagawards = Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series
2000 "The West Wing"
2001 "The West Wing"

John Spencer (December 20 1946December 16 2005) was an Emmy- and Screen Actors Guild Award-winning American television actor best known for his role as Leo McGarry, the White House Chief of Staff on the NBC political drama "The West Wing".


Early life

Spencer was born as John Speshock in New York City, and grew up in nearby Totowa, New Jersey. He was the son of blue-collar parents Mildred (née Bincarowski), a Ukrainian-American waitress, and John Speshock, an Irish American truck driver. [ [ John Spencer Biography (1946-) ] ] [ [ The, Ukrainian Weekly] Accessed March 6, 2007.] ref_num|grave|1 With his enrollment at the Professional Children's School in Manhattan at age sixteen, he found himself sharing classes with such fellow students as Liza Minnelli and violinist Pinchas Zukerman. Later he attended Fairleigh Dickinson University but did not complete a degree.Lee, Jennifer. [ " Obituary: John Spencer, 'West Wing' actor"] , "International Herald Tribune", December 19, 2005. Accessed June 9, 2007]


He began his television career on "The Patty Duke Show". He played Harrison Ford's detective sidekick in the 1990 courtroom thriller "Presumed Innocent". From 1990 to 1994, he was a regular cast member on "L.A. Law", playing the rumpled, pugnacious associate attorney Tommy Mullaney. Later, he acted in the romantic comedy "Forget Paris" (1995) as a wisecracking co-worker to Billy Crystal's basketball referee; Spencer portrayed the role of Captain Hugh Paulsen in the 1995 FMV game Wing Commander IV; "The Rock" (1996) as FBI Director Womack, and the 2002 theatre production of The Exonerated. Paralleling his character on The West Wing, he was a recovering alcoholic and divorcé. Spencer was actually the first actor cast in "The West Wing". [ [ - John Speshock Spencer] Accessed January 1, 2006.] Spencer was perhaps best known to the 80's generation of filmgoers for his brief role in the 1983 movie WarGames, staring Matthew Broderick, as an Air Force Captain who refuses to launch the Nuclear Missiles in the pre-credit sequence of the film.

He won an Obie Award for the 1981 off-Broadway production of "Still Life," about a Vietnam veteran, and received a Drama Desk nomination for "The Day Room." After two previous nominations, Spencer won his first Emmy Award in 2002 for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series for his portrayal of Leo McGarry on "The West Wing". The episodes Spencer submitted for judging by the Emmy voters were "Bartlet for America", in which Leo has to testify in front of a Congressional committee about the President's health and flashes back to his own medical lapse, and "We Killed Yamamoto".

Although not as visible as his co-star Martin Sheen, he believed and fought for many of the same causes. He was probably best known for his work for AIDS awareness. He referred to himself as a "dyed-in-the-wool liberal" and described Franklin Delano Roosevelt as one of his heroes.


He died following a heart attack in a Los Angeles hospital on December 16, 2005, four days before his 59th birthday. "West Wing" cast mate Stockard Channing was visiting him at the time of his death. [ [ CNN "Saturday Morning News" transcript] Accessed March 6, 2007.] He is interred at Laurel Grove Memorial Park in Totowa, New Jersey. [ [ Browse by Cemetery: Laurel Grove Memorial Park] , Find A Grave. Accessed June 9, 2007.]


At the time of his death, he had appeared in two of the five "West Wing" episodes then in post-production – "Running Mates" and "The Cold." His death was subsequently written into the show, as his character, vice presidential candidate McGarry, died of a heart attack on election night. Coincidentally, his character had a disconcerting history of heart problems. "West Wing" cast mate Kristin Chenoweth sang the musical number "For Good" from the hit Broadway musical "Wicked", which she starred in, at his funeral.


*"WarGames" (1983)
*"The Protector" (1985)
*"Hiding Out" (1987)
*"Black Rain" (1989)
*"Far From Home" (1989)
*"Presumed Innocent" (1990)
*"L.A. Law" (1990-1994)
*"Wing Commander IV" (1994)
*"Forget Paris" (1995)
*"The Rock" (1996)
*"Cop Land" (1997)
*"The Negotiator" (1998)
*"The West Wing" (1999-2006)
*"Ravenous" (1999)


External links

*cite news|url=|title=Actor John Spencer has died|date=December 16, 2005|publisher=Associated Press
*imdb name|id=0817983|name=John Spencer
* [ Photos from Wireimage]
*cite news|url=|title=John Spencer, 58, TV Actor Starring on 'The West Wing,' Dies|date=December 17, 2005|publisher=The New York Times
* [ October 16, 2004 Interview with John Spencer] , Tavis Smiley Show
*Find A Grave|id=12709665

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