Spalding Gray's body is found. The remains of the ''Swimming to Cambodia'' monologuist, who disappeared two months ago, are found in New York's East River

By Gary Susman
Updated March 06, 2004 at 05:00 AM EST
Spalding Gray
Credit: Spalding Gray: Adam Nemser/PHOTOlink/NewsCom

The body of Spalding Gray, the ”Swimming to Cambodia” monologuist whose family reported him missing in January, was discovered in New York City’s East River on Sunday, the Associated Press reports. Dental records and X-rays confirmed that the remains were those of the 62-year-old writer and character actor. The cause of death had yet to be determined, but Gray was known to have been depressed and to have attempted suicide in the past.

Gray, who lived in Manhattan, was last seen by his family on Jan. 10, a day on which he’d taken his two kids to the movies and then out to lunch. After wife Kathleen Russo reported him missing, witnesses told police they’d seen a man matching his description aboard the Staten Island Ferry. Gray, who’d been depressed since being critically injured in a 2001 car accident, had threatened to jump from the ferry in the fall of 2003, shortly after a leap from a boat off the shores of Sag Harbor, Long Island.

Gray, a cofounder of New York’s experimental theater troupe The Wooster Group (also the home base for Willem Dafoe), specialized in autobiographical monologues, which he delivered seated at a table, that mined wry observations from his personal troubles and foibles. As a film actor, he made use of his patrician appearance (he was born to a blue-blooded Rhode Island family) in roles as establishment types in such films as ”Beaches” and ”True Stories.” His best known work, combining both his careers, was ”Swimming to Cambodia,” a monologue about his experiences as a bit player in the film ”The Killing Fields,” which was itself made into a popular movie in 1988. Other monologues included ”Monster in a Box,” ”Gray’s Anatomy,” and ”It’s a Slippery Slope.” Many dealt with his ailments and his family history of depression; Gray’s mother committed suicide when she was 52. In a 1997 interview, he suggested an epitaph for himself: ”An American Original: Troubled, Inner-Directed and Cannot Type.”