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 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.
Below is a chronological filmography.
- 2001 Kate and Leopold – Actor: Dr. Geisler
- 2001 How High – Actor: Professor Jackson
- 2001 Julie Johnson – Actor: Mr. Miranda
- 2001 Revolution #9 – Actor: Scooter McCrae
- 1999 Coming Soon – Actor: Mr. Jennings
- 1997 Drunks – Actor: Louis
- 1997 Bliss – Actor: Alfred
- 1996 Diabolique – Actor: Simon Veatch
- 1996 Gray's Anatomy – Actor: Himself; Also: Screenwriter
- 1996 Buckminster Fuller: Thinking Out Loud
- 1996 Glory Daze
- 1995 Hoogste Tijd – Actor: Jack's Father
- 1995 Bad Company – Actor: Walter Curl
- 1995 Beyond Rangoon – Actor: Jeremy Watt
- 1994 The Paper – Actor: Paul Bladden
- 1993 The Pickle – Actor: Dr. Spalding
- 1993 Twenty Bucks – Actor: Priest
- 1993 Zelda
- 1993 King of the Hill – Actor: Mr. Mungo
- 1992 Straight Talk – Actor: Dr. Erdman
- 1991 Monster in a Box – Actor: Himself; Also: Screenwriter
- 1991 To Save a Child – Actor: Hobart
- 1991 Spalding Gray: Monster in a Box
- 1989 Heavy Petting
- 1989 The Image – Actor: Frank Goodrich
- 1988 Clara's Heart – Actor: Dr. Peter Epstein
- 1988 Stars and Bars – Actor: Rev. Cardew
- 1988 Spalding Gray: Terrors of Pleasure
- 1988 Beaches – Actor: Dr. Richard Milstein
- 1987 Swimming to Cambodia – Actor: Himself; Also: Screenwriter
- 1986 Seven Minutes in Heaven – Actor: Dr. Rodney
- 1986 True Stories – Actor: Earl Culver
- 1985 The Communists Are Comfortable (And Three Other Stories)
- 1984 The Killing Fields – Actor: United States consul
- 1984 Hard Choices – Actor: Terry Norfolk
- 1984 Almost You – Actor: Travel Agent
- 1983 Variety
- 1978 Maraschino Cherry
- 1976 Little Orphan Dusty – Actor
- 1973 The Farmer's Daughter – Actor: George
- 1972 Love-In '72 – Actor: Radical at party
- 1970 Cowards – Actor: Radical