John Aylward, 'ER' and 'The West Wing' actor, dies at 75: 'A great friend to many'

Actor John Aylward, best known for his roles on “ER” and “The West Wing,” has died. He was 75.

Aylward died at his Seattle home of natural causes on Monday, Aylward’s agent Mitchell Stubbs confirmed to USA TODAY.

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

Aylward landed his debut onscreen role in the television film “The Secret Life of John Chapman” in 1976. He went on to appear in the dramedy series “Northern Exposure,” as well as films “Seven Hours to Judgment” and “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III” before scoring the role of Dr. Donald Anspaugh in the medical drama “ER.”

John Aylward attends the "Outside Mullingar" cast photo call on Dec. 3, 2013. The "ER" star died of natural causes May 16, 2022.

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The Seattle-born actor also made it to the White House in the final season of the Aaron Sorkin political drama “The West Wing,” playing Barry Goodwin, former DNC chair and head of transition. Aylward’s last role was Freddie Laffter in the USA Network crime drama “Briarpatch.”

Aylward graduated from the University of Washington in 1971 with a bachelor’s degree in drama, according to the university’s official website. He co-founded the Empty Space Theatre in Seattle in 1973 and worked regularly as a company member of the Seattle Repertory Theatre before making it in the film and television world.

Aylward’s theater chops helped pave his path to stardom, after “ER” producer Carol Flint asked him to audition for the show after spotting him in a Los Angeles production of "Psychopathia Sexualis" in 1996, according to AllFamous. Aylward also starred as Willy Loman in the Arthur Miller play “Death of a Salesman” in 1998, per Film Reference.

Aylward is survived by his wife Mary Fields.

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