Mary Mara, ‘E.R.’ and ‘Law and Order’ Actor, Dies in Possible Drowning at 61

New York State Police are investigating the cause of the Sunday morning incident


Mary Mara, a character actress known for her extensive resume of guest-starring roles on shows like “E.R.,” “Shameless,” and “Law & Order,” died Sunday, her manager Craig Dorfman confirmed to TheWrap. She was 61.

The New York State Police announced in a press release that Mara died by possible drowning in Cape Vincent, New York. After receiving a call Sunday morning at 8:10 a.m., Cape Vincent Fire and Ambulance recovered her body from the St. Lawrence River. According to initial reports, there were no signs of foul play. An autopsy is being conducted at the Jefferson County Medical Examiner’s Office as part of an ongoing investigation into her death.

“Mary was one of the finest actresses I ever met,” Dorfman said in a statement. “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 in 1960 in Syracuse, New York, Mara’s three-decade career spanned more than 80 credits across theater, film and television. After attending San Francisco State University and earning a master’s degree from the Yale School of Drama, she made her screen debut in the 1989 TV movie “The Preppie Murder.” She would go on to land roles in hit series like “Nash Bridges,” “NYPD Blue,” “Ally McBeal,” “The West Wing,” “Dexter,” “Star Trek: Enterprise,” “7th Heaven,” “Monk,” “Lost,” “Bones” and “Ray Donovan.”

Her early film credits include the Jamie Lee Curtis vehicle “Blue Steel,” the Sandra Bullock and Tate Donovan rom-com “Love Potion No. 9,” “The Hard Way” with Michael J. Fox, and Billy Crystal’s “Mr. Saturday Night.” Later, she appeared in the horror film “Prom Night” and 2020’s “Break Even” before retiring.

Mara also acted in several stage productions, appearing alongside William Hurt in Yale Repertory’s production of “Ivanov,” in “Mad Forest” for the Manhattan Theatre Club, and a New York Shakespeare Festival production of “Twelfth Night” with the likes of Michelle Pfeiffer and Jeff Goldblum.

“Bosch” and “General Hospital” actor Jon Lindstrom posted a photo of himself and Mara, recalling their time performing together in a 2008 stage production of “In Heat.”

“Crushed to learn of Mary Mara’s untimely passing,” he wrote. “… She was plowing through the aftereffects of Chemo. Brave, brilliant, Uber-talented. Earth will be much less-colorful without her. R.I.P.”

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