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John Aylward, 'ER' and 'The West Wing' actor, dies at 75

Aylward was a recognizable face to millions thanks to his more than 70-episode run on NBC's "ER".

SEATTLE — Actor John Aylward, best known for his roles on "ER" and "The West Wing", has died at 75, his agent told multiple news outlets. 

Aylward's agent Mitchell K. Stubbs said the actor died in his Seattle home Monday of natural causes after a long illness.

“John was a wonderful actor and a great friend to many," Stubbs said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter. "He was proud of his film and television work, although his life in the theater was where he was the happiest."

Stubbs told Deadline that Aylward was "a dream client, a friend and a dream person.” 

Aylward appeared in more than 70 episodes of NBC's long-running medical drama "ER" as Dr. Donald Anspaugh, a role that made him a recognizable face to millions of people.

He said in 2015 that many of those viewers seemed to think of him as a doctor rather than an actor: "I could take gall bladders out on airplanes," he joked to KING in Seattle. "No really, it's crazy. People still remember and they reach over the aisle and touch you on the knee and go, 'I'm so glad you're on the plane.'"

The "ER" role launched Aylward into a more than two-decade television career. His other roles included former DNC chairman Barry Goodwin on NBC's "The West Wing", and more recently, two episodes as Father Bob on "Yellowstone". He also appeared on episodes of "Mad Men", "American Horror Story", and numerous other shows.


Aylward graduated from the University of Washington School of Drama in 1971, a biography on the school's website states. He spent the first 15 years of his career performing onstage before his television career began in the 90s. Even after his career took off onscreen, the actor continued to perform onstage in his native Seattle. 

The ER family is mourning the loss of our dear friend John Aylward. Our thoughts are with his family, friends, colleagues, and fans.

Posted by ER: The Series on Thursday, May 19, 2022

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