'West Wing' Actor John Spencer Dies

A heart attack has claimed the life of actor John Spencer, who was nominated for an Emmy five times, winning once, for his work on the West Wing. His character coincidentally also had a heart attack, but survived:

John Spencer, who played a dedicated politico on "The West Wing" who survived a serious illness to run for vice president, died of a heart attack Friday, his publicist said.


Spencer, 58, died at a Los Angeles hospital, said publicist Ron Hofmann. He would have been 59 next week.

Spencer played Leo McGarry, the chief of staff to President Jeb Bartlet (Martin Sheen) through the first few seasons of the NBC series. In a sad parallel to life, his character suffered a heart attack that forced him to give up his White House job.

The character recovered and was picked as a running mate for Democratic presidential contender Matt Santos, played by Jimmy Smits; the campaign has been a central theme this season for the drama.

Sadly, the great TV writer in the sky isn't beholden to AFTRA minimums and episode commitments.