Spalding Gray was born on June 5, 1941, in Providence, Rhode Island. In 1977, he performed his first monologue. His next acclaimed performance was Swimming to Cambodia, based on his own experience. The play won an Obie. Throughout the 1980s, he appeared in roles on the big screen and on Broadway, including those he wrote and performed on his own. He died on January 10, 2004, in New York’s East River.
Early Life and Career
Actor and writer Spalding Rockwell Gray was born on June 5, 1941, in Providence, Rhode Island. Raised in New England, Gray is best known for monologues that delve deeply and comically into the dark reaches of his own anxious mind. A graduate of Emerson College, Gray made his screen-acting debut in a series of forgettable films. With a talent for live performance, he co-founded the Wooster Theater Group in New York City in 1977, where he performed his first monologue, Sex and Death at the Age of 14.
Career Highlights and Tragic Death
Grays next acclaimed performance was Swimming to Cambodia, which was based on his own experience traveling to Thailand to appear in the war film The Killing Fields. The one-man play won an Obie award and was adapted into an award-winning feature film in 1987. Throughout the 1980s, Gray continued to appear in supporting roles on the big screen and on Broadway, but his most unforgettable performances were those he wrote and performed on his own. These included Monster in a Box and Grays Anatomy, both of which grew into feature films.
In 1999, Gray turned his experience as a stay-at-home dad into the monologue Morning, Noon and Night, which he performed at Lincoln Center. Three years later, a car accident in Ireland resulted in serious injury, exacerbating Grays life-long battle with depression and resulting in another monologue, Black Spot. Following several suicide attempts, Gray was reported missing in January 2004. His body was found in the East River two months later. He and his wife, Kathie Russo, lived with their three children in Manhattan.
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