John Spencer (actor): Wikis


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John Spencer

John Spencer.
Born John Speshock
December 20, 1946(1946-12-20)
Paterson, New Jersey, USA
Died December 16, 2005 (aged 58)
Los Angeles, California, USA
Occupation Actor
Years active 1983-2005

John Spencer (December 20, 1946 – December 16, 2005) was an American television actor best known for his role as Leo McGarry, the White House Chief of Staff on the NBC political drama series The West Wing.


Early Life

Spencer was born as John Speshock in New York City, and raised in Totowa, New Jersey.[1] He was the son of blue-collar parents Mildred (née Bincarowski), a Ukrainian-American waitress, and John Speshock, an Irish American truck driver.[2][3][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. Spencer attended Fairleigh Dickinson University but did not complete a degree.[1] He often referred to himself as a "dyed-in-the-wool liberal" and described Franklin Delano Roosevelt as one of his heroes.[4]


Spencer began his television career on The Patty Duke Show, and eventually began appearing in minor roles in feature films commencing with 1983's War Games. He won an Obie Award for the 1981 off-Broadway production of Still Life, about a Vietnam War veteran, and received a Drama Desk nomination for "The Day Room." He became a fully-fledged supporting actor with the 1990 courtroom thriller Presumed Innocent, starring opposite Harrison Ford. The same year, Spencer joined the cast of the television series L.A. Law, playing rumpled, pugnacious associate attorney Tommy Mullaney. Spencer's work also extended to video games, portraying the role of Captain Hugh Paulsen in the 1995 video game Wing Commander IV.

In 1999, Spencer was cast in the role of Leo McGarry on the NBC political drama series The West Wing. Both Spencer and his character were recovering alcoholics. He won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series in 2002, being judged on the show's third season episodes "Bartlet for America" and "We Killed Yamamoto".


Spencer died following a heart attack in a Los Angeles hospital on December 16, 2005, four days before his 59th birthday. He was buried at Laurel Grove Memorial Park in Totowa, New Jersey.[5] At the time of his death, he had appeared in two of the five The West Wing episodes then in post-production – "Running Mates" and "The Cold". His death was subsequently written into the show, with candidate for the Vice President of the United States Leo McGarry dying of a heart attack on election night. Coincidentally, his character had suffered a life-threatening heart attack in the sixth season episode The Birnam Wood. At Spencer's private funeral, his West Wing co-star Kristin Chenoweth sang the musical number "For Good" from the hit Broadway musical Wicked. Spencer's name remained in the opening credits of the final season of the series.



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