Spalding Gray

Performer, Writer
Spalding Gray

Male

Born: June 5, 1941
Providence, Rhode Island

Died: circa. January 11, 2004
New York, New York

New York City Police have positively identified a body that was found in the East River on March 7 as that of missing actor and monologuist Spalding Gray. The identification was achieved through dental records, the Medical Examiner's office told Playbill On-Line. Cause of death is yet to be determined.

Obituary: According to the New York Post, the body featured a pair of black corduroy pants. Gray was wearing black corduroys when he vanished on the evening of Jan. 10. The remainder of the clothing was badly decomposed, as was the corpse's face. No identification was found. Gray left his wallet behind when he left his Tribeca loft two months ago.

The body was spotted off the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn, near Kent Avenue, at around 3 PM March 7, the Post said.

Spalding Gray, the Obie Award-winning author of Swimming to Cambodia and Gray's Anatomy, officially became a missing person on Jan. 19.

Police had been looking into an account that Gray rode the Staten Island ferry on Friday. Gray attempted suicide aboard the ferry in September, but was prevented by a friend. He was again seen on the boat the evening of Friday, Jan. 9. Unable to decide whether to disembark, he was escorted off the ferry by security guards.

The actor and author was due to fly to Aspen, Colorado, on the morning of Saturday, Jan. 10, but decided to stay in Manhattan when his LaGuardia Airport flight was canceled. His five-year-old son with wife Kathy Russo, Theo, and Russo's 17-year-old daughter Marissa, saw him that day. They later attending a showing of the film "Big Fish" at the Loews Village VII on Third Avenue and then had lunch a Haveli, a Second Avenue Indian restaurant, the Post reported.

Theo spoke with his father on the phone several hours later. After that, his whereabouts are unknown. He left his Tribeca loft—which is just a block away from the Performing Garage, where he often performed with The Wooster Group, the famous avant garde troupe he co-founded—without his wallet, his baggage or his medication.

Russo reported Gray's disappearance to the police Sunday, Jan. 11 at 10 AM, explaining that the writer disappeared after he returned home from the movies with their two young children.

Gray was been depressed since he suffered head injuries in a car accident in Ireland in 2001, where he was vacationing in celebration of his 60th birthday. He fractured his skull and hip. According to his wife, the accident caused him to have a metal plate implanted in his head, and a torn sciatic nerve impaired his ability to walk.

Since then, he has attempted suicide, or threatened to, on several occasions. In October 2002 the entire run of his solo piece, Black Spot, at P.S. 122 was canceled when Gray checked into a mental hospital. At that time, Gray had been found near his Long Island home contemplating a jump from a local bridge. The police and his wife talked him down. Russo told the Post that, in September 2003, he jumped out of a boat while sailing on Sag Harbor. Soon after, he left an answering machine message for Russo saying he was on the Staten Island ferry and was going to jump off.

Gray won an OBIE for Swimming to Cambodia and filmed the monologue. Other works include Morning, Noon and Night, Monster in a Box, Gray's Anatomy and It's a Slippery Slope. He last performed on Broadway in another writer's work — Gore Vidal's The Best Man.

Gray often premiered his works at the Performing Garage or at P.S. 122. Later, as his fame grew, the polished pieces graduated to extended runs at Lincoln Center, where he would perform on Sunday and Monday nights. While he also took on conventional acting role in films such as "Beaches" and "The Paper," he was best known for—and by his own account, most comfortable in—his confessional solo pieces, which routinely received lavish praise from critics.

Many of his works took a comic look with his inability to cope with his own profession and life. Swimming to Cambodia grew out of a trying trip to southeast Asia to film a supporting role in "The Killing Fields." Monster in a Box centered on his difficulty in finishing his first novel—a book about how he found it impossible to take a successful vacation. Gray's Anatomy concerned his descent into alternative medicine to treat an eye condition. And It's a Slippery Slope dealt frankly with his decision to leave longtime companion and collaborator Renee Shafransky (who he mentioned often in his monologues) to marry the young Russo, with whom he was expecting a child.

Swimming to Cambodia, Gray's Anatomy and Monster in a Box were also made into films. Jonathan Demme directed the first, while Steven Soderbergh helmed the second.

Gray's mother, a Christian Scientist, committed suicide. The actor often discussed the topic in his autobiographical monologues.

 

Official

Website: spaldinggray.com

 

Roles

Playbill Cover - The Best Man The Best Man
Sep. 17, 2000 - Dec. 31, 2000
Secretary William Russell Performer
(Original)
Who's Who
Playbill Cover - Morning, Noon and Night Morning, Noon and Night
Nov. 8, 1999 - Jan. 10, 2000
Performer
(Original)
Who's Who
    Writer
(Original)
Who's Who
Playbill Cover - It's a Slippery Slope It's a Slippery Slope
Nov. 10, 1996 - Jan. 6, 1997
Writer
(Original)
Who's Who
    Performer
(Original)
Who's Who
Gray's Anatomy
Jun. 5, 1994 - Jun. 27, 1994
Performer
(Original)
 
    Writer
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Gray's Anatomy Gray's Anatomy
Nov. 28, 1993 - Jan. 3, 1994
Performer
(Original)
 
    Writer
(Original)
 
Monster in a Box
Jan. 21, 1991 - Mar. 12, 1991
Writer
(Original)
 
    Performer
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Our Town Our Town
Dec. 4, 1988 - Apr. 2, 1989
Stage Manager Performer
(Original)
 
 

Inside the Playbill (3)

See more Who's Who

Awards


Drama Desk Award

Year Category Production Winner/Nominee
2000 Outstanding Solo Performance Morning, Noon and Night Nominee
1994 Outstanding Solo Performance Gray's Anatomy Nominee
1991 Outstanding Solo Performance Monster in a Box Nominee
1985 Outstanding Solo Performance Nominee
 
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