Friday, December 16, 2005

Johnny, we hardly knew ye


John Spencer, the actor who for the past few years has played Leo McGarry on the TV series The West Wing, died suddenly of a heart attack today, just a few days shy of his 59th birthday. The AP story is here.

I loved the stillness that Spencer had about him as he played first the role of chief of staff, and most recently that of vice-presidential candidate.

He was great back when he was on the series L.A. Law, playing a tough but decent lawyer at the posh firm, in a real thorn-among-the-roses role.

The recent development of his character, Leo, as the VP running mate reunited him with his L.A. Law co-star Jimmy Smits. It was a terrific paring and it will be interesting to see how the writers handle his death and how they will fill the VP-to-be role on the series.

When driving one day last year, I heard him on the radio being interviewed about the garden he maintains at his California home. You can listen to it here.

The end of the AP article, rather sad, caught my eye: 'Spencer, an only child, is survived by “cousins, aunts, uncles, and wonderful friends,” Hofmann said.' (The man quoted is John Spencer's publicist, Ron Hofmann.) Does it matter when we're gone if there is no spouse or partner or child to bear witness to our final rites and mourn our passing?

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam. (May his soul be on God's right-hand side.)


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