Actor John Spencer dies of heart attack in Los Angeles |

Actor John Spencer dies of heart attack in Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES – John Spencer, who played a tough and dedicated politico on “The West Wing,” died Friday of a heart attack at a Los Angeles hospital, said his publicist, Ron Hofmann. He was 58.Spencer played Leo McGarry, the savvy and powerful chief of staff to President Jed Bartlet (Martin Sheen), on the NBC series. In a sad parallel to life, Spencer’s character suffered a heart attack that forced him to give up his White House job.This season, McGarry was a runningmate for presidential contender Matt Santos (Jimmy Smits).Spencer, who also starred on “L.A. Law” as attorney Tommy Mullaney, received an Emmy Award for his performance on “The West Wing” in 2002 and was nominated four other times for the series.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. His big break was as Harrison Ford’s detective sidekick in the 1990 courtroom thriller “Presumed Innocent.”Spencer won an Obie Award for the 1981 off-Broadway production of “Still Life,” about a Vietnam veteran, and received a Drama Desk nomination for “The Day Room.”He made his feature film debut with a small role in “War Games,” which was followed by roles in “Sea of Love” and “Black Rain.” In recent years, he worked on both studio and independent films, including “The Rock,” “The Negotiator,” “Albino Alligator,” “Lesser Prophets” and “Cold Heart.”

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