It was sad news to me when I heard, that actor, John Spencer died on Friday. I was watching the evening news with Brian Williams, shortly before going to work when he reported his death at only age 58. Wow, that's way too young to die these days. John was the kind of actor that flew below the radar screen for years. I never really noticed him as a big star in any project he worked on, but he was there adding his talent to so many television shows and movies in a supporting type role.
The past couple of years, I have not been watching the West Wing that much. However, during it's first two or three seasons, I watched it every week and enjoyed it very much, even though I'm not a liberal or a Democrat. I thought the show was well written back then and even though I didn't agree with the decisions that were made in this fictitious White House, I did enjoy the various characters that worked there. John's character was extremely believable to me, as the President's chief-of-staff. He looked and acted the part of what a true leader behind the scenes might do and say in various situations.
Another part, which was played with distinction by John Spencer was in the movie, "The Rock", where he played an FBI agent that was obsessed with keeping an old spy in jail, without trial for the rest of his life, just because the guy knew too much. While John played serious roles most of the time, this part was more comical to me, even though the writers might not of had that in mind when writing his part. His actions and speech patterns made me laugh in this movie, which I saw many times over the years. Just like in the West Wing, John's role was supporting, but it's hard to picture the movie, without him in it.
I'm going to miss seeing John Spencer in various movie and television roles. He always portrayed the type of character that is needed to make a production work. For those old enough to remember, John played a lawyer in the 1980's television show "LA Law", in that series, just like the "West Wing" he played a supporting role in a cast of big stars that made up the rest of the cast. To me, John was a "William A. Macy" type of character. Never the headliner, but always there right behind the scenes making a production work the way the writers and directors envisioned.
I just checked out the "West Wing" web site and there is a small picture of John on their home page mentioning his death. I hope the show decides to write an episode in tribute to his contribution to it's success. Hopefully, their web site will also ad a fitting obituary of his lifetime accomplishments to the movie and television industry. I pray that John's family will find peace knowing that his life touched so many others in a very profound way.
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John Spencer Tribute