John Aylward, the actor best known for his recurring roles on popular NBC dramas “ER” and “The West Wing,” died Monday in Seattle of natural causes, his agent Mitchell K. Stubbs confirmed to Variety. He was 75 years old.
Born and raised in Seattle, Aylward graduated from the University of Washington’s School of Drama in 1970. He got his start as a stage actor when he founded Seattle’s Empty Space Theater in 1973. He has been a regular at the Seattle Repertory Theater for 15 years.
After making her television debut with small roles in TV movies – including ‘The Secret Life of John Chapman’, ‘Stamp of a Killer’, ‘Third Degree Burn’, ‘Child in the Night’ and ‘With a Vengeance – Aylward began working more frequently in television in the ’90s, starting with a recurring role on “Northern Exposure.”
Other TV shows he has had notable recurring and guest spots on during his career include ‘Grace Under Fire’, ‘3rd Rock from the Sun’, ‘Family Law’, ‘Ally McBeal’, ‘Dharma & Greg”, “The X-Files”, “Everwood”, “The Practice”, “Nip Tuck”, “Law & Order”, “Boston Legal”, “Alias”, “Mad Men”, “Fringe” , “Shameless” and “Yellowstone”. ”
Aylward was cast in “ER” in 1996, its third season, after co-producer Carol Flynt saw him perform in “Psychopathia Sexualis” at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles. Aylward played Dr. Donald Anspaugh, one of Central Hospital’s top board members, and the chief of staff and chief of surgery for much of the series. Aylward appeared in over 70 episodes during the show’s tenure, making his last appearance in 2008 during the show’s 15th and final season.
During the run of “ER,” Aylward also played a notable role in the seventh and final season of “The West Wing,” as DNC chairman Barry Goodwin, who advised presidential elect Matt’s campaign campaign. Santos (Jimmy Smits), and ultimately helped the transition between Josiah Bartlet (Martin Sheen) and the Santos administrations. Other notable television roles include a starring role in the short-lived 2000 NBC sci-fi series “The Others” and a recurring role on the 2020 American series “Briarpatch.”
Although best known for his television roles, Aylward also had supporting roles in several films, including “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III”, “Armageddon”, “Down With Love”, “Water for Elephants”, “The Nowhere Inn” and “The Way Back.” He also voiced Dr. Arne Magnusson in the 2007 video game “Half-Life 2: Episode Two”.
Aylward is survived by his wife Mary Fields.