December 19, 2005
Actor John Spencer, Dec. 16
John Spencer, who played a tough and dedicated politico on The West Wing who survived a serious illness to run for vice president, died of a heart attack on Friday, Dec. 16, 2005, at a Los Angeles hospital. He was 58. Spencer played Leo McGarry, the savvy and powerful chief of staff to President Josiah "Jed" Bartlet (Martin Sheen). In a sad parallel to life, Spencer's character suffered a heart attack that forced him to give up his White House job. His film credits include War Games, Sea of Love, Black Rain, The Rock, The Negotiator, Albino Alligator, Lesser Prophets and Cold Heart. As a teenager, he landed a recurring role on The Patty Duke Show as the boyfriend of English twin Cathy. Stage and film work followed. Then his big break: playing Harrison Ford's detective sidekick in the 1990 courtroom thriller Presumed Innocent." That role led to his hiring for the final four years of L.A. Law.