Spalding Gray

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Spalding Gray (June 5, 1941 – about January 10, 2004) was a U.S. actor, screenwriter and playwright. Born in Barrington, Rhode Island, he was best known for his performance monologues, which deal with events from his own life in a style characterised by humour, paranoia and acute self-consciousness.


After a few minor cinema roles and appearing in a number of forgettable pornographic films with titles like The Farmer's Daughter and Little Orphan Dusty, 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, and was sometimes criticised as exploitative for the way he appropriated 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 Town.

In the early 1990s, Gray published his first novel, Impossible Vacation. 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 whilst 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.


On March 7, 2004, the New York City medical examiner's office reported that at 15:00 Spalding Gray's body had been pulled from the East River. 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, Kathie Russo, three children, and his brothers Rockwell Gray, an English professor in St. Louis, and Channing Gray, arts writer for the Providence (RI) Journal.


Below is a chronological filmography.

External links