SPALDING GRAY Biography - Actors and Actresses


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Name: Spalding Gray                                                                   
Born: 5 June 1941 Providence, Rhode Island, U.S.                                       
Died: 10 January 2004 New York, New York, U.S.                                         
Spalding Gray (June 5, 1941 - ca. January 10, 2004) was an American actor,             
screenwriter, performance artist, and playwright.                                     
After a few minor cinema roles and appearing in The Farmer's Daughter, a               
pornographic film, Gray first achieved national prominence with his film               
Swimming to Cambodia, a filmed version of one of his monologues. He based the         
monologue on his experiences in Southeast Asia while filming a small part in the       
1984 movie The Killing Fields.                                                         
He attracted some attention from postmodernist critics over the extent of the         
overlap between his off-stage self and his on-stage persona. He was sometimes         
accused of appropriating the fortunes or misfortunes of others for material for       
his monologues. He was a founding member of the experimental theater company The       
Wooster Group. He also appeared in a Broadway revival of Thornton Wilder's Our         
In the early 1990s, Gray published his first and only novel, Impossible Vacation.     
The novel is strongly based upon Gray's own life experiences, including his           
Christian Scientist upbringing, his WASP background, and his mother's suicide.         
True to form, Gray wrote a monologue about his experiences writing the book,           
entitled Monster in a Box.                                                             
In June 2001 he suffered severe injuries in a car crash while on holiday in           
Ireland. In January 2004, Gray, known to suffer bouts of depression in part as a       
result of these injuries, was declared missing. The night before his                   
disappearance he had seen Tim Burton's film Big Fish, which ends with the line "A     
man tells a story over and over so many times he becomes the story. In that way,       
he is immortal." Gray's widow, Kathie Russo, has said “You know, Spalding cried     
after he saw that movie. I just think it gave him permission. I think it gave         
him permission to die. (New York Magazine February 2, 2004)                           
When Gray was first declared missing, his profile was featured on the FOX             
Network show America's Most Wanted.                                                   
On March 7, 2004, the New York City medical examiner's office reported that Gray's     
body had been pulled from the East River. It is believed that he jumped off the       
side of the Staten Island Ferry. In light of a suicide attempt in 2002, and the       
fact that his mother had taken her own life in 1967, suicide was the suspected         
cause of death. It was reported that Gray was working on a new monologue at the       
time of his death, and that the subject matter of the piece the Ireland car           
crash and his subsequent attempts to recover from his injuries might have             
triggered his final bout of depression.                                               
Gray was survived by his wife, three children (stepdaughter Marissa, a writer,         
and sons Forrest Dylan Gray--aka "Forrest Fire Gray," a musician with the band "Too   
Busy Being Bored," and Theo Spalding Gray, an actor), and his brothers Rockwell,       
an English professor in St. Louis, Missouri, and Channing, arts writer for the         
Providence Journal.                                                                   
In 2005, Gray's unfinished final monologue was published in a hardcover edition       
entitled Life Interrupted: The Unfinished Monologue. Running 39 pages, the             
monologue which Gray had performed in one of his last public appearances is           
augmented by two additional pieces he also performed at the time, a short             
remembrance called "The Anniversary" and an open letter to New York City written       
in the wake of the September 11 attacks. Also included in the book is an               
extensive collection of remembrances and tributes from fellow performers and           
Spalding Gray's voice is still being heard through the resurrection of his             
journal entries in the 2007 play Spalding Gray: Stories Left to Tell at the           
Minetta Lane Theatre in New York City. The concept for this play was derived by       
Gray's widow. The show includes a cast of four actors as well as one revolving         
cast member.