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John Spencer Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4) | Mini Bio (1) | Trade Mark (2) | Trivia (11) | Personal Quotes (2) | Salary (1)

Overview (4)

Date of Birth 20 December 1946New York City, New York, USA
Date of Death 16 December 2005Los Angeles, California, USA  (heart attack)
Birth NameJohn Speshock
Height 5' 6½" (1.69 m)

Mini Bio (1)

John was the only son of a lower middle-class family. His father, John Speshock, was a truck driver. His mother, Mildred, was a homemaker and an occasional waitress. He grew up near Paterson, New Jersey, but left at age 16 to attend the Professional Children's School. In 1963, he landed a recurring role on The Patty Duke Show (1963). After that ended, he attended Fairleigh Dickenson University and later New York University, but dropped out to return to acting. John had been an acknowledged alcoholic, who remained sober ever since getting therapy. He had quit smoking in 1999, which he described as "hell on earth". He passed away of a heart attack on December 16, 2005. He will be missed.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Zach Dresch

Trade Mark (2)

Grey Hair
Gravelly smoke burnished Voice

Trivia (11)

January 2000 - John lived with his long-time girl friend, actress-choreographer Patricia Mariano.
Before he was known to television audiences, John was well-known in New York for his brilliant stage performances throughout the 70s and 80s.
As a child, he won several 4H awards for the tomatoes he grew. He was an avid gardener. He also collected art & antiques, and was involved in both the New York and L.A. AIDSWalk, which benefits local clinics and AIDS patients.
Attended the Professional Children's School in New York City as a teen. Among the other students at the time was Liza Minnelli.
Received excellent stage reviews and a Drama League Award for his vivid reincarnation of the late Dan White, the assassin of San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and Councilman Harvey Milk, in "Execution of Justice" in 1986. Earlier, he won an Obie Award for his portrayal of a returning Vietnam vet in the off-Broadway play "Still Life" in 1981.
Toured with the legendary Gloria Swanson playing her blind son in a stage production of "Butterflies Are Free" in 1970.
Art sadly imitated life for John in the end. His The West Wing (1999) TV character, Chief of Staff Leo McGarry, had a history of alcoholism and suffered a heart attack. John, who was himself a recovered alcoholic (since 1989), died of a heart attack four days before his 59th birthday in December of 2005.
An only child of a working-class family (his father was a truck driver who never finished grammar school and his mother was an occasional waitress), both of his grandfathers were alcoholics.
He never married or had children.
Friend of The West Wing (1999) co-star, Kristin Chenoweth.
A self described Liberal, one of his heroes was President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Personal Quotes (2)

They [his parents] wanted me to be educated -- a doctor or a lawyer. They weren't happy that I chose the arts. They wanted me to have a good life. It's ironic that I made the leap in a different way.
[Upon winning an Emmy for his role in The West Wing] I've never wanted to do anything but act. It saved my life, it's the reason I get up in the morning, it's my opiate. The prize for me was always getting the next gig so I could do this wonderful thing that I love. So this, my friends, is deliciously redundant.

Salary (1)

The West Wing (1999) $70,000 /episode(2001)

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