RIP John Spencer (1946-2005)

It’s a little late, I know, but honestly, when I first heard about this on Saturday morning, I thought it was an elaborate joke. Perhaps The West Wing writers are trying to get some publicity for the show, or maybe some joker announced it on the radio somewhere, and the story spread out of control. No, unfortunately, it was not a joke – John Spencer has died last Friday from heart attack. You know him as Leo McGarry from the West Wing. Others may know him from Presumed Innocent, Ravenous, Cop Land, The Rock, Green Card, Black Rain, Sea of Love and many many other films. He’s the leutenant, the cop, the investigator – serene and quiet, but all coiled up inside. With John, it was all in the eyes.

We’ll miss him terribly – his interviews were a marvel to observe – he’s such a grounded person for an actor. He gardens. He spends time with family. He’s like an ideal grandpa – wise, smiling and patient. His role on the West Wing has always been one of the show’s highlights – the intensity and heart he brought into that fictional White House made the show believable, real.

A few days have passed, and I am already missing his quick quips, his mannerisms and humanity that lit up the small and big screen. Thanks for everything, John. We will all miss you. There’s no replacing you – no matter how badly NBC wants to hold on to their ratings. Just write him out, and give a respectful send-off. You cannot swap an actor like John Spencer. He’s something else.

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