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

John Aylward, an actor who had recurring roles on ER and The West Wing, died Monday in Seattle from natural causes. His agent, Mitchell K. Stubbs, shared the news with Variety on Thursday. Aylward was 75.

Aylward had almost 100 credits to his name between the late 1970s and 2020. His best-known role was Dr. Donald Anspaugh on ER. He appeared in 74 episodes as the surgeon between 1996 and 2008. Donald was a former U.S. Army surgeon who had several important positions at Country General during the show's run. Alyward also starred as former DNC chairman Barry Goodwin during The West Wing Season 7.

Aylward was born in Seattle and graduated from the University of Washington's school of drama. He began his acting career in the Seattle theater scene, founding Empty Space Theatre in 1973. He was also a member of the Seattle Repertory Theatre for 15 years.

After a string of roles in made-for-television movies during the 1970s and 1980s, Aylward earned a small role in the pilot for Northern Exposure. He later appeared in two episodes as Charles "Red" Murphy, "Russian Flu" in 1990, and "Nothing's Perfect" in 1992. In 2000, Aylward scored a lead role in The Others, an NBC drama starring Julianne Nicholson and Gabriel Macht that centered on a group of psychics. It was part of an ambitious NBC block of all supernatural-themed shows on Saturday nights during the 1999-2000 season, but all three shows were canceled by the end of the season.

After The Others, Aylward starred in another short-lived show, the 2000-2001 reboot of The Fugitive starring Tim Daly. That same season, he had a recurring role in Family Law. Aylward also appeared on The X-Files, Everwood, The Agency, Judging Amy, The D.A., Law & Order, Alias, Cold Case, Big Shots, The Mentalist, CSI, House of Lies, Shameless, Mad Men, and Yellowstone. Aylward also appeared in the movies Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III, Armageddon, Instinct, The Crazies, The Way Back, A Million Ways to Die in the West, Water for Elephants, and Gangster Squad. Aylward is survived by his wife, Mary Fields.

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"We lost a beloved member of our family this week, with the passing of company member John Aylward," Seattle Repertory said in a statement. "An accomplished and widely respected actor, John left an indelible mark on the theater community and on everyone he worked with over his long career. John, we will miss you dearly."