Update (6/29/22 3:07 p.m. EST): Mary Mara’s cause of death was confirmed to be drowning by the New York State Police Department on Wednesday, June 29. The actress was suspected to have drowned when her body was found on Sunday. The medical examiner found that her death was an accident and attributed it to “asphyxiation, and water drowning,” in a statement from the police.
Original: Mary Mara, who was known for her roles on the television series, ER and Criminal Minds, died at the age of 61 after she seemed to drown during a swimming trip, a statement from the New York State Police reports. The actress’ body was found at St. Lawrence River in Cape Vincent, NY on the morning of June 26 and an investigation began right away. “The preliminary investigation suggests the victim drowned while swimming,” the statement read. “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.”
A different statement from Mary’s brother-in-law, Scott Dailey, also gave the public more information about her death and it claims she was staying at her sister Martha’s summer home when the “apparent swimming accident” happened, PEOPLE reported. Mary’s manager, Craig Dorfman, also provided a statement confirming her death to the outlet. “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,” he told the outlet while also sharing that she was “one of the finest actresses I ever met.”
Find out more about Mary and her successful career in the acting industry below.
She appeared in several recurring TV roles.
Mary was seen more than once on a long list of popular television series, including Criminal Minds, Nash Bridges, NYPD Blue, Law & Order, Ray Donovan, The Practice, Gideon’s Crossing, Star Trek: Enterprise, Lost, Dexter and Shameless. She also appeared in other series like Ally McBeal, Judging Amy, The West Wing, 7th Heaven, Monk, Nip/Tuck and Bones. Her role of Loretta Sweet on ER was probably one of her most memorable, and it was mentioned in her obituary, which was obtained by PEOPLE.
“She specialized in complex portrayals of often-troubled characters; perhaps the most familiar was her recurring role in the 1990s of Loretta Sweet, a sympathetic, down-and-out prostitute and single mother on the NBC series, ‘ER,'” the obituary read.
The talented star also appeared in movies, including The Preppie Murder, Love Potion No. 9, Just Looking, K-PAX, Gridiron Gang and Prom Night (2008). Her final on-screen appearance was in the 2020 film Break Even. Once filming completed, she retired and moved back to her hometown of Syracuse, NY after living a life going back and forth from the east and west coasts over the years.
She leaves behind several close family members.
In addition to a stepdaughter, Katie Mersola, Mary is survived by two sisters, including Martha Mara and Susan Mara, as well as their husbands, including Scott, who spoke out after her death. She is also survived by a nephew named Christopher Dailey, who is Scott’s son.
Many family, friends, and fans took to social media to post tributes after her death.
Actor Jon Lindstrom, who worked with Mary in the past, was one of the first celebs to share a touching post about her on Twitter. It included a photo of the two of them along with a sweet and heartbreaking caption. “Crushed to learn of Mary Mara’s untimely passing. We performed together back in 2008 in Malcolm Danare’s ‘In Heat’ at the Lost Playhouse in LA. She was plowing through the aftereffects of Chemo. Brave, brilliant, Uber-talented. Earth will be much less-colorful without her. R.I.P,” it read.
Crushed to learn of Mary Mara’s untimely passing. We performed together back in 2008 in Malcolm Danare’s “In Heat” at the Lost Playhouse in LA. She was plowing through the aftereffects of Chemo. Brave, brilliant, Uber-talented. Earth will be much less-colorful without her. R.I.P. pic.twitter.com/sj1U8c6hyK
— Jon Lindstrom (@thejonlindstrom) June 28, 2022
Fans also shared loving messages to the late actress’ family. “my heart goes out to her beloved family. Sweet, extremely talented actress & her mesmerizing personality will always be missed,” one wrote.
Mary founded a theater group.
The impressive New York native attended San Francisco University and Yale School of Drama before she founded a theater group in the Bay Area, according to PEOPLE. Her hard work and determination led her to have a successful career in the acting world, which also included roles on stage in various plays, for over three decades.
One of her most memorable performances was in Twelfth Night.
Mary starred alongside big names like Michelle Pfeiffer and Jeff Goldblum in the 1989 Bard production, which took place as part of Shakespeare in the Park. It led up to a number of appearances for NYC’s acclaimed Manhattan Theatre Club.