Actor-Writer Spalding Gray’s Body Pulled From East River

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“Actor-writer Spalding Gray, who laid bare his life in a series of acclaimed monologues like ‘Swimming to Cambodia’ while scoring big-screen success in ‘Kate and Leopold’ and ‘The Paper,’ was confirmed dead on Monday. The body of Gray, 62, was pulled out of the East River off Greenpoint, Brooklyn, on Sunday, two months after he walked out of his Manhattan apartment and disappeared.

The city medical examiner confirmed through dental records and X-rays on Monday that it was Gray’s body. The cause of his death was still under investigation, said Ellen Borakove, a spokeswoman for the medical examiner. Throughout his disappearance, his wife, Kathleen Russo, had held out scant hope that he might still be alive.” —NBC News

Shortly after leaving home that January evening, Gray called his son Theo to tell him that he loved him. Several witnesses confirmed seeing him on the Staten Island Ferry the night of his disappearance. The overwhelming likelihood is that Gray drowned himself, although the medical examiner’s office is being diplomatic in resisting leaping to conclusions. He had been depressed and made at least one previous attempt to take his life; his mother had killed herself. I wrote about his presumed suicide at the time of his disappearance, speculating that his suicidality might bear some relationship to his recent devastating motor vehicle accident not only via demoralization but the organic effects of his head injury. A friend and I were talking just the other day about the fact that the bodies of those who drowned during the winter months are often discovered as the waters start to warm at the end of the winter.

My thoughts are with his family and the many friends who loved him, and all who will be diminished by the passing of his trenchant observation and wry wit… [thanks, walker and abby]

His friend John Perry Barlow, who as of this writing has not yet commented on the confirmation of Gray’s passing, contemplated the possibility poignantly in January. He said at that time:

I fear that his children, and in particular his marvelous young sons, Forrest and Theo, will remember little of who he really was and what he really did. Worse, I suspect that much of what will remain as the memory of their father will be shadowed by who he became after depression closed its ghostly fist around his light. To the goal that we might re-remember him for them through our tales, I want to make a little book of your comments following the last three posts and give it to them. If any of you object to being included, and I hope none of you will, please let me know. They are better than the flowers one might send otherwise.

I don’t know, but it might not be too late to add your remembrances to Barlow’s memento mori.