Mary Mara dead at age 61 after 'drowning in river'

Ray Donovan and ER actress Mary Mara dead at age 61 after ‘drowning in St. Lawrence river while swimming for exercise’ during visit to her sister’s summer home in northern New York

  • Actress Mary Mara has died at age 61 after reportedly drowning in a river 
  • New York State Police say the Ray Donovan actress died during a swim in the St. Lawrence River 
  • Mara has had extensive career in both Hollywood and television, and worked alongside some of the biggest names in the business 
  • She had roles on Mr. Saturday Night, ER, and The West Wing, Shameless, and Star Trek

Actress Mary Mara has died after reportedly drowning in the St. Lawrence River. She was 61.

New York State Police said the ER and Ray Donavan actress drowned while swimming for exercise, according to TMZ. 

Her body was discovered in the water in the town of Cape Vincent, New York, on Sunday morning, after police received a call for a possible drowning at around 8:10am.

A representative for Mara said she had been visiting her sister’s summer home in the Thousand Islands region – on one of the northern-most borders of New York state – where water temperatures are cool even in the summer. 

Water temperatures near where she was found are currently about 66 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Posts on Mara’s Instagram account show that she enjoyed spending time on and swimming in the St. Lawrence River, including one from July 2019 which showed her stepping down a dock into the water and wrote ’63 degrees! Life affirming river swim, first one of the season.’

Actress Mary Mara has died at age 61 after drowning in the St. Lawrence River

Mara (second from right) appears alongside William H. Macy (far right), and Tony Shalhoub (far left) in the 1998 film A Civil Action

Police confirmed her death in a statement.

‘When Troopers, along with Cape Vincent Fire and Ambulance arrived on the scene, they discovered a female deceased in the St. Lawrence River,’ a statement from police read, ‘The victim has been identified as 61-year-old Mary T. Mara from Cape Vincent, NY.’

‘The preliminary investigation suggests the victim drowned while swimming. The victim’s body showed no signs of foul play,’ it continued. 

An autopsy will be performed at the Jefferson County Medical Examiner’s Office for an official cause of death.

‘Mary was one of the finest actresses I ever met. She had a terrific sense of humor and a unique outlook on life,’ Mara’s manager, Craig Dorfman said in a statement, ‘I still remember the first time that I saw her onstage in Mad Forest in 92. She was utterly captivating, well loved, and will be missed.’

‘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,” an obituary obtained by PEOPLE read. 

Mary Mara (left) and one of her sisters. Mara was visiting her sister’s summer home the St. Lawrence river when she drowned

A July, 2019 Instagram post from Mara, which shows her stepping into the St. Lawrence river for a swim. She captioned it ’63 degrees! Life affirming river swim, first one of the season.’ The river in the farthest reaches of upstate New York is chilly even in the summer

Mara had extensive career in Hollywood, television, and on stage, and worked alongside some of the biggest names in the business.  

She played Susan in the 1992 Billy Crystal film Mr. Saturday Night, and played Loretta Sweet on nine episodes of ER, from 1995 to 1996.

Over the years, she had roles in The West Wing, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Star Trek: Enterprise, Nip/Tuck, and The Practice.

In 2013, she played Mrs. Sullivan on Ray Donovan, and Nance on Shameless.

Her last role was in the 2020 film Break Even.

Mara is a native of Syracuse, New York. She attended San Francisco State University and the Yale school of drama.

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

 Mary Mara pictured in 2001 at the premiere of Stranger Inside at the Galaxy Theater in Hollywood 

Mary Mara pictured in 2018 at the opening of the play Sweat in Los Angeles, at the Mark Taper Forum

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