Friday, December 16, 2005

Losing a Lion

'West Wing' Actor John Spencer Dies at 58

This is terribly sad news. I may have hated his character, Leo, at times, but I've always enjoyed the way John Spencer played the role. His Emmy acceptance speech in 2002 is, for me, one of the signature moments in the history of that award.

This does raise a question, though: What will The West Wing do about this? I suppose Leo could have another heart attack--in a way, that would be fitting, as that's how Spencer died--but his role had just gotten a lot juicier, as he was not only running for vice president but being asked to take the reins of the campaign from Josh. Maybe this sad event will inspire John Wells to call Aaron Sorkin for help in solving this problem, and Rob Lowe will be asked to return to run for VP as Sam Seaborn?

Then again, maybe not. Whatever happens, this much is certain: John Spencer will be missed.


McKenzie said...

According to an article on, you can't just kill him off with a heart attack. They said he appears in a flash-forward episode three years in the future, which I'm assuming was the episode about the Bartlett Library. So a heart attack technically wouldn't work, they would have to write him out as still living.

Richard said...

CNN, and all the other outlets that have reported this, are incorrect. The flash-forward scene that begins season seven includes Bartlet, CJ, Danny, Will, Toby, Charlie, and Kate Harper. Josh rushes in at the last moment. Leo does not appear in this scene at all. The reason why is obvious--if he had appeared, it would have been clear whether he and Santos won the election.

I don't understand why so many news services have picked up this incorrect story--you'd think at least one of the editors would have seen this episode! The writers are free to do what they wish with Leo--his character's future survival has never been foretold.