Mary Mara, ER and Nash Bridges actress, dies at 61 in apparent drowning

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Mary Mara, the actress known for her work on such TV series as ER, Law & Order, and Nash Bridges, has died at 61 in an apparent drowning.

According to New York State Police, troopers responded to a report of a possible drowning Sunday morning in the town of Cape Vincent, about 90 miles north of Syracuse. At the scene, troopers and Cape Vincent fire and ambulance services discovered a deceased woman in the St. Lawrence River, whom they later identified as Mara.

The investigation is ongoing, but State Police said the preliminary investigation suggests that Mara drowned while swimming. "The victim's body showed no signs of foul play and was transported to the Jefferson County Medical Examiner's Office pending an autopsy to determine an official cause of death," authorities said in a news release.

A family spokesperson said Mara was staying at the summer home of her sister Martha Mara at the time of her death. The property fronts the river outside the village of Cape Vincent, in the Thousand Islands region, where the St. Lawrence separates the U.S. and Canada.

Mary Mara
Mary Mara

Matthew Simmons/WireImage Mary Mara

Mara's manager, Craig Dorfman, said in a statement to EW, "Mary was one of the finest actresses I ever met. 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."

Born Sept. 21, 1960, Mara grew up in Syracuse and graduated from Corcoran High School, where she cut her teeth acting in plays. She went on to study at San Francisco State University and Yale, where she earned a Master of Fine Arts certificate in 1988.

Though she performed on stage throughout her 32-year career, her first screen role came in the 1989 made-for-TV movie The Preppie Murder, and her first big break was in the 1992 film Love Potion No. 9, opposite Sandra Bullock.

On the small screen, Mara was perhaps best known for playing Loretta Sweet, a sympathetic, down-and-out sex worker and single mother, on the medical drama ER. She also portrayed Police Inspector Bryn Carson on Nash Bridges and appeared on Monk, NYPD Blue, Aly McBeal, Ray Donovan, Dexter, and Shameless. Her final role was in the 2020 film Break Even, and she retired shortly after that.

In addition to her sister Martha, Mara is survived by her stepdaughter, Katie Mersola; her sister Susan Mara and brother-in-law Scott Dailey; and a nephew, Christopher Dailey.

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