John Aylward, known for his roles on ER, The West Wing, and most recently, Yellowstone has passed away at the age of 75. The news comes from his talent agent Mitchell K. Stubbs, who was told by Aylward’s wife Mary Fields. Aylward had apparently been in declining health.
Though we haven’t seen John Aylward in the last couple of years, he gave us some good roles in 2020 with The Way Back as Father Edward Devine and The Nowhere Inn as Uncle Pete. The Way Back was about a basketball coach played by Ben Affleck who struggled with alcoholism. The Nowhere Inn was a satirical documentary about musician St. Vincent. Another final role of his was on the TV series Briarpatch in 2020, where he played Freddie Lafter for five episodes. The show starred Rosario Dawson as a senator’s aid investigating the death of her sister in her corrupt hometown.
John Aylward is probably best known for his TV roles and his movie roles in the 1990s. He had an extended tenure in The West Wing as former DNC chair Barry Goodwin. He had an even bigger role in ER where he played surgeon and leading hospital board member, Dr. Donald Anspaugh. He was on ER for twelve years before the show was eventually canceled in 2008. He also had roles in movies like Armageddon, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III, The Crazies, A Million Ways to Die in the West, Water for Elephants, Gangster Squad, and many more. He also had small roles in plenty of other popular series like Northern Exposure, 3rd Rock from the Sun, Mad Men, Carnivale, American Horror Story, Alias, The Mentalist, House of Lies, Shameless and more.
One of John Aylward’s most prominent recent TV roles was in the hit show Yellowstone. In Yellowstone, he played Father Bob for two episodes. John Aylward’s breakout role didn’t come until later in his life when he got the ER role at the age of 50. Until then, he mostly did smaller roles and theater. Aylward’s career began in earnest after graduating from the actor’s training program at the University of Washington in 1970. His first on-screen role would come six years later when he appeared as Grady in the TV movie The Secret Life of John Chapman. It’s fortunate that Aylward continued to do theater roles, as his role in the play Psychopathia Sexualis earned him an audition on ER. Clearly, the audition went well because he appeared in the third season of the series and was on the show ever since. The Psychopathia Sexualis role also earned him the 1996 Drama Logue Award for Outstanding Performance.
While John Aylward may not have been as well-known for his TV and movie roles, he had several prominent on-stage performances in plays like Glengarry Glen Ross, Death of a Salesman, Inspecting Carol, and Richard III. Aylward will be remembered for always bringing his professionalism and talent to all of his roles. Alyward is survived by his wife, Mary Fields.