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John Spencer has died

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Hold up! Before you read on, please read this...

This post was published more than 13 years ago

I keep old posts on the site because I often enjoy reading old content on other people's sites. It can be interesting to see how views have changed over time: for example, how my strident teenage views have, to put it mildly, mellowed.

I'm not a believer in brushing the past under the carpet. I've written some offensive rubbish on here in the past: deleting it and pretending it never happened doesn't change that. I hope that stumbling across something that's 13 years old won't offend anyone anew, because I hope that people can understand that what I thought and felt and wrote about then is probably very different to what I think and feel and wrote about now. It's a relic of an (albeit recent) bygone era.

So, given the age of this post, please bear in mind:

  • My views may well have changed in the last 13 years. I have written some very silly things over the years, many of which I find utterly cringeworthy today.
  • This post might use words or language in ways which I would now consider highly inappropriate, offensive, embarrassing, or all three.
  • Factual information might be outdated.
  • Links might be broken, and embedded material might not appear properly.

Okay. Consider yourself duly warned. Read on...

John Spencer, 1946-2005 John Spencer, the man who brought The West Wing’s Leo McGarry to life, died of a heart attack yesterday, aged 58. He would have been 59 on Tuesday.

For me, Spencer was Leo, the loyal Chief of Staff and Democratic VP nomination. The Associated Press notes that, in a sad parallel to life, McGarry also suffered a heart attack that forced him to give up his White House job as chief of staff. Like McGarry, Spencer was also a recovering alcoholic and – as he himself admitted – workaholic.

To Richard Schiff, who played Toby Ziegler, he was “one of those rare combinations of divinely gifted and incredibly generous. There are very few personal treasures that you put in your knapsack to carry with you for the rest of your life, and he’s one of those.”

Aaron Sorkin, who created the series, and Tommy Schlammem, one of the original executive producers, commented in a joint statement: “John was an uncommonly good man, an exceptional role model and a brilliant actor. We feel privileged to have known him and worked with him. He’ll be missed and remembered every day by his many, many friends.”

Actress Allison Janney, C.J. Cregg on the series, described Spencer as a consummate professional actor. “Everyone adored him,” she said.

“We have all lost a dear, dear brother,” said Bradley Whitford, who plays Josh Lyman.

MSNBC have a fairly lengthy tribute to their colleague, though it seems somewhat tasteless that they have already begun to speculate as to how this will affect The West Wing as a TV series. I’m certain that more full obituaries of Spencer’s life will be written by the British media as the news filters through tomorrow, as Spencer was such a well-loved, Emmy-award winning actor.

For such a talented actor and all-round good person to died at such a relatively young age is tragic, and my thoughts are with his friends, family, and colleagues. He will be very sadly missed.

Requiescat in pace

This 778th post was filed under: News and Comment.

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Comments and responses

Comment from sjhoward (author of the post)


by sjhoward

Comment posted at 13:59 on 19th December 2005.

Today’s Guardian carries a full obituary, which can be read online here.


Trackback from elsewhere on the site



Trackback received at 00:51 on 26th January 2006.

This post has been referenced by another on this site:
sjhoward.co.uk » West Wing axed


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