Veteran character actor John Aylward, best known for playing Dr. Donald Anspaugh on the hit NBC medical drama ER, has died at the age of 75.
“I was shocked. He was a wonderful actor and a phenomenal human being,” Aylward’s longtime agent Mitchell K. Stubbs said in a statement to our sister site Deadline. “He was a dream client, a friend and a dream person.”
Aylward joined the cast of ER in Season 3’s second episode, with his character Donald Anspaugh taking over as chief of staff of the newly merged County General. The rigid doctor showed he had a softer side when he revealed his son Scott had lymphoma, and Scott bonded with Gloria Reuben’s Jeanie when she became his private caretaker. Anspaugh stepped down as chief of staff in Season 4 in the wake of Scott’s death, but he remained at the hospital as a surgeon and board member. Aylward appeared sporadically after that as Anspaugh, all the way through ER‘s 15th and final season.
His ER costar Noah Wyle commented on a fan page’s Instagram post about Aylward’s death: “Very sad news indeed. John was an amazing actor, a gentleman, and a wonderful friend. He’ll be missed.”
Starting with a handful of episodes of Northern Exposure, Aylward has been a familiar face to TV fans for the past three decades. He had a recurring role on the final season of NBC’s The West Wing as former DNC chair and head of transition Barry Goodwin. His other TV roles include Mad Men, Alias, Brothers & Sisters, The Practice and Yellowstone. His most recent credit was on the quirky USA crime drama Briarpatch, which finished airing in 2020.