Mary Mara, ‘ER’ and ‘Law and Order’ Actor, Dies at 61 in Apparent Drowning

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Mary Mara, the actor best known for her recurring roles in “ER” and “Law & Order,” died in Cape Vincent, N.Y. Sunday from an apparent drowning. She was 61.

In a report published Monday, the New York State Police confirmed that Mara was discovered in the St. Lawrence River in Cape Vincent around 8:10 p.m. on Sunday by various officers. According to a statement from a representative, Mara was staying at the summer home of her sister Martha. A preliminary investigation suggested Mara died by drowning while swimming. Her body has been transported to Jefferson County Medical Examiner’s Office, where an autopsy will be performed to determine an official cause of death.

In a statement to Variety, Mara’s manager Craig Dorfman confirmed her death.

“Mary was one of the finest actresses I ever met,” Dorfman wrote. “I still remember seeing her onstage in 1992 in ‘Mad Forest’ off Broadway. She was electric, funny and a true individual. Everyone loved her. She will be missed.”

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Mara was born and raised in Syracuse, N.Y. before going on to study at San Francisco State University and Yale. She began her film and TV career in the 1989 with the television movie “The Preppie Murder,” and would go on to amass over 80 screen credits. Her notable productions include “ER,” which saw her play recurring patient Loretta Sweet, and police procedural “Nash Bridges,” which saw her act in the main cast as inspector Bryn Carson. Other notable television credits include “NYPD Blue,” “Ally McBeal,” “Farscape,” “Law & Order,” “The West Wing,” “Monk,” “Shameless,” “Ray Donovan,” “Dexter” and “Criminal Minds.”

Onstage, Mara appeared in a New York Shakespeare Festival production of “Twelfth Night” with Michelle Pfeiffer, Jeff Goldblum, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio and Gregory Hines. In 1990, she co-starred with William Hurt in a Yale Repertory Theatre production of Anton Chekhov’s “Ivanov.”

Mara made her film debut in 1992 with “Love Potion No. 9,” and appeared that same year as Billy Crystal’s daughter in “Mr. Saturday Night.” Other credits include “Bound,” “A Civil Action,” “K-Pax,” “Gridiron Gang” and “Prom Night.” After appearing in the 2020 film “Break Even,” Mara retired from acting and returned to live in Syracuse.

Mara is survived by her stepdaughter Katie Mersola, sisters Martha Mara and Susan Dailey, brother-in-law Scott Dailey and nephew Christopher Dailey.

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