John Spencer, longtime co-star on NBC’s The West Wing, died of a heart attack Friday in Los Angeles. Spencer has played the part of Leo McGarry, first the presidential chief of staff and now a vice presidential candidate, since the show’s first season.
Spencer, who won an Emmy Award in 2002 for his work on the show, was 58.
"John was a wonderful actor, a pleasure to work with and a true gentleman, but most importantly, a generous and gracious friend," said West Wing executive producer John Wells in a statement. "He will be missed by everyone who ever had the great fortune to know him."
Ironically, Spencer’s character on the show, Leo McGarry, had suffered a heart attack, with his health a plot element as he ran for VP with Matt Santos (Jimmy Smits).
Spencer first became a familiar TV face on NBC drama L.A. Law, where he played Tommy Mullaney in the early 1990s.