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John Aylward, The West Wing and ER Actor, Dies at 75

Aylward also appeared in Northern Exposure, 3rd Rock From the Sun, and Ally McBeal.
  • John Aylward. (Photo: Showtime Networks Inc/ Everett Collection)
    John Aylward. (Photo: Showtime Networks Inc/ Everett Collection)

    Character actor John Aylward, known for his roles in television hits The West Wing and ER, has died. He was 75.

    Aylward's agency, Mitchell K. Stubbs & Associates, shared the news of his passing on Twitter, saying they were notified of Aylward's death from a "devastating call" from the actor's wife, Mary Fields.

    Although no cause of death was provided, Stubbs told Deadline that Fields confirmed her husband's health had been declining. "I was shocked," Stubbs said. "He was a wonderful actor and a phenomenal human being."

    Aylward is best known for playing Dr. Donald Anspaugh on ER, a surgeon and hospital board member. The actor joined ER in its third season and appeared in more than 75 episodes from 1996 to 2008. Aylward also played Barry Goodwin, former DNC chairman and head of President-elect Santos' transition team, in later seasons of The West Wing.

    Over his four-plus decades in the industry, Aylward appeared in countless television shows, including Northern Exposure, 3rd Rock From the Sun, Ally McBeal, The X-Files, and Everwood. More recently, Aylward starred in the USA Network series Briarpatch and made guest appearances in Nobodies, Shameless, and Yellowstone.

    Aylward was remembered fondly by his agent, who told Deadline, "He was a dream client, a friend and a dream person.”

    Kirstie Renae is a writer, blogger, and Austin-based actress with a penchant for binge-watching TV with her dogs. Follow her on Twitter @KirstieRenae.

    TOPICS: John Aylward, Briarpatch, E.R., The West Wing