LOS ANGELES — John Spencer, an Emmy-winning original cast member of NBC’s The West Wing, died suddenly Friday morning of a heart attack, according to a statement released by his publicist.
Spencer, four days short of his 59th birthday, is best known to viewers as Leo McGarry, the chief of staff to West Wing President Josiah Bartlet (Martin Sheen). This season, McGarry was the vice presidential running mate for Democratic nominee Matt Santos (Jimmy Smits).
Spencer’s portrayal of McGarry, a tough politico and recovering alcoholic, earned him an Emmy for supporting actor in a drama in 2002. The character actor, a veteran of theater and film work, also received four other Emmy nominations for the role and a Golden Globe nomination.
Spencer, who grew up in New Jersey, also played streetwise attorney Tommy Mullaney on NBC’s L.A. Law. His film roles include Presumed Innocent, Black Rain and Sea of Love.