Wednesday, December 21, 2005

John Spencer: 1946-2005

In Memory

John Spencer was born John Speshock in New York City on December 20th 1946. The only son of a truck driver and a some-times waitress, John grew-up in a lower middle-class environment near Paterson New jersey. At age 16 John left home to attend the Professional Childrens School, where one of his class mates was Liza Minnellil. In 1963 he got his first recurring acting role as the boyfriend of Patty Dukes British cousin on The Patty Duke Show. John settled in to character roles both on stage and screen even touring with silent screen legend Gloria Swanson in a 1970 production of 'Butterflies are Free'.

John Spencers career however was handicapped by the fact that he had become an alcoholic, a trait he shared with both his father and grandfather. Eventually however John was able to kick the habit and found increasing success on film in movies like Forget Paris, The Rock, Copland, and The Negotiator. His role as recovering alcoholic Tommy Mullaney on TV's "L.A. Law", helped inspire "West Wing" creator Aaron Sorkin to create for him the role of White House Chief of Staff Leo McGarry. John was the first actor cast on the series and won an Emmy for the role, as well as being nominated four additional times.

Never married John Spencer is survived by his long time girlfriend actress-choreographer Patricia Mariano.


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