Body of missing writer Spalding Gray found in East River

Two months after his disappearance from his Manhattan apartment, the American actor and writer Spalding Gray was found dead in the East River of New York yesterday. His body was identified through X-rays and dental records.

While there was no finding on the cause of death, Gray had been suffering from severe depression. He had made two suicide attempts since a serious car accident in Ireland in 2001.

A driving force behind underground theatre in lower Manhattan and a veteran of roles both on Broadway and in films, Gray, 62, was famous for his often humorous and poignant monologues detailing the ups and frequent downs of his personal life and career.

The discovery of his body has brought an end to the mystery surrounding his whereabouts since he walked out of his apartment in the Tribeca district on 10 January. He had been due to fly to Colorado the next morning for a skiing holiday, but he never packed or turned up at the airport.

His widow, Kathleen Russo, with whom he had two children, told a reporter a week ago: "Everyone that looks like him from behind, I go up and check to make sure it's not him. If someone calls and hangs up, I always do star-69 [to redial the caller]. You're always thinking 'maybe'."

In the accident in Ireland he suffered serious head and hip injuries. Since then he had checked himself in twice for psychiatric treatment.

Swimming to Cambodia was perhaps his most successful work, first on stage and then as a film, directed by Jonathan Demme. It documented his experience playing the role of the US ambassador in the film The Killing Fields, opposite Sam Waterstone. Also turned into a film was his book Gray's Anatomy, about his mostly disastrous dabblings with alternative medicine to treat an eye problem.

His last appearance on Broadway was four years ago in Gore Vidal's political drama, 'The Best Man'.

Haunted by the suicide of his own mother in 1967, Gray first tried to take his own life by jumping from a bridge in the Hamptons area of Long Island in 2002. More recently, a friend talked him out of leaping from a Staten Island ferry into New York Harbour.

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