ER And Criminal Minds Actress Mary Mara Is Dead At 61 After Drowning

Mary Mara as Loretta Sweet on ER
(Image credit: NBC)

Mary Mara made a name for herself in television with roles on some of network television's longest-running iconic series, including a memorable run on medical drama ER. Sadly, the 61-year-old actress and New York native has died due to an apparent drowning in New York state. 

According to the New York State Police, troopers responded to a call in Cape Vincent (located in Jefferson County, NY) for a possible drowning, along with first responders.  They discovered Mary Mara, who was already deceased. The call came in at 8:10 a.m. on June 26. 

Although the investigation is ongoing into what happened, findings so far indicate that she drowned while swimming in the St. Lawrence River. An autopsy has not yet been performed, but there were reportedly no signs of foul play. News of Mara's death was confirmed by authorities on June 27. 

According to a family spokesperson (via Deadline), the actress was staying with her sister, Martha Mara, in her summer home property along the St. Lawrence River. In addition to two sisters, she is survived by her stepdaughter, brother-in-law, and nephew. 

Mary Mara was a familiar face on television with roles in major shows, and she may be best known for her recurring role that was relatively early in her career that spanned decades. After a number of one-off roles, she landed the part of Loretta Sweet in the second season of ER, which would go on to run for 15 high-profile seasons on NBC. She would appear as the memorable patient in nine of the season's 22 episodes from 1995-1996. 

She went on to land a role in CBS' Nash Bridges, where she portrayed Insp. Bryn Carson throughout the first three seasons from 1996 - 1997. Nash Bridges and ER were her longest-running roles, but certainly not her only characters on high-profile TV shows. In fact, she played two different characters on NYPD Blue, then two different characters on the original run of Law & Order, prior to its 2022 revival on NBC.

Mara also played the same character of Dr. Jane Lefkowitz across two shows set in the same universe: The Practice and Gideon's Crossing, both in 2001. She joined the Star Trek universe in 2004 with several episodes of Enterprise, and later appeared in multiple episodes of Dexter, Shameless, and Ray Donovan. She is undoubtedly also remembered for her role as a killer in CBS' Criminal Minds in 2014, which certainly showed off some of her versatility as an actress. 

Her final credit at the time of her death was a part in the 2020 film Break Even. She had a number of film credits, including Love Potion No. 9, but is better known for her work in television. THR reports that she also had some history on stage, with work in New York's Manhattan Theatre Club.

Our thoughts here at CinemaBlend are with the family, friends, and loved ones of Mary Mara in this difficult time. She leaves behind a strong legacy as an actress who contributed to many shows that have become iconic, some even gaining second lives via streaming services and spinoffs in the years after their conclusions.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).