John died of a heart attack on Dec. 16, 2005, just a few days before his 59th birthday. John Spencer’s Cause of Death: How Did ‘The West Wing’ Actor Die? According to his obituary, Spencer was born John Speshock Jr. and grew up in Totowa, New Jersey. At the time of his death, Spencer had filmed two of the five West Wing episodes that were in post-production: "Running Mates" and "The Cold." John Spencer passed away just three years after receiving the best supporting actor award at the Emmy's. “We feel privileged to have known him and worked with him. He won an Obie Award for the 1981 off Broadway production of Still Life, about a Vietnam War veteran, and received a Drama Desk nomination for The Day Room. Everyone finds out in part II of the episode that he has died. Cregg on the series, described Spencer as a consummate professional actor. “There are very few personal treasures that you put in your knapsack to carry with you for the rest of your life, and he’s one of those,” Schiff said. john spencer winsjohn spencer wins an emmy for his role as 'leo mcgarry' on the west wing2008-07-25T12:51:55Z. Spencer began his television career on The Patty Duke Show, and eventually began appearing in supporting roles in feature films commencing with 1983's WarGames.  He was the son of blue-collar parents Mildred (née Benzeroski), a waitress, and John Speshock, Sr., a truck driver. In 1986 he appeared on Broadway as Dan White, the killer of Harvey Milk, in Execution of Justice, alongside Stanley Tucci and Wesley Snipes. John Spencer (born John Speshock Jr.; December 20, 1946 – December 16, 2005) was an American actor. He was “one of those rare combinations of divinely gifted and incredibly generous,” said actor Richard Schiff, who played Toby Ziegler on the NBC series. He’ll be missed and remembered every day by his many, many friends,” they said. The West Wing's John Spencer died in 2005. “John was so central to how we did the show, he sort of was the glue who held it all together,” Wells said. Here's what you need to know about his cause of death and what The West Wing did when he passed away. Getty His performance on the show earned him a Primetime Emmy Award in 2002. Spencer's remains were interred at Laurel Grove Memorial Park in his hometown of Totowa, New Jersey. Law.”. john spencer wins an emmy for his role as 'leo mcgarry' on the west wing. Spencer played a streetwise lawyer on the David E. Kelley drama that was in sharp contrast to the show’s otherwise glamorous cast and setting. Actor, character shared similaritiesThe actor, whose world-weary countenance was perfect for the role of McGarry, mirrored his character in several ways: Both were recovering alcoholics and both, Spencer once said, were driven. Then Leo was only mentioned for several episodes. John Spencer was born John Speshock, Jr., on December 20, 1946, in New York City, and was raised in Totowa, New Jersey. Coincidentally, McGarry had also suffered a near-fatal heart attack in the show's sixth season.  Spencer often referred to himself as a "dyed-in-the-wool liberal" and described Franklin Delano Roosevelt as one of his heroes..