John Aylward: ER and West Wing actor dies at age 75 | Ents & art news

Veteran actor John Aylward, best known for his roles on the hit American TV shows ER and The West Wing, has died at the age of 75.

The Seattle-born star was also a familiar face on numerous other hit US series during his career, including 3rd Rock From The Sun, Ally McBeal, The X-Files, Nip Tuck, and Law & Order.

Aylward graduated from University of Washington drama school in 1970.

Starting out as a theater actor, he founded the Empty Space Theater in Seattle in 1973 and was a fixture at the Seattle Repertory Theater for 15 years.

After his start on television with small roles, his acting grew in the 90s and he landed a recurring role on Northern Exposure.

Aylward was cast in ER in 1996, during its third season, after co-producer Carol Flynt saw him perform on stage in Los Angeles.

He played Dr. Donald Anspaugh, a senior central hospital board member, and the chief of staff and chief of surgery for much of the show.

He appeared in over 70 episodes of the series, making his last appearance in 2008 during its 15th and final season.

During the filming of ER, Aylward also had a notable role in the seventh and final season of The West Wing.

He played Barry Goodwin, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, who advised the election campaign for President-elect Matt Santos (Jimmy Smits), and ultimately helped transition between Josiah Bartlet (Martin Sheen) and the Santos governments.

Other notable TV appearances include a starring role on the short-lived science fiction show The Others and a recurring spot on the American series Briarpatch.

Though best known for his roles on television, Aylward also had supporting roles in a number of films, including Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III, Armageddon, and Down With Love.

Aylward, who died of natural causes in his native Seattle, is survived by his wife Mary Fields.

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