NBC’s The Office is arguably one of the funniest and most popular series to come from the network ever. Michael Scott and his Dunder Mifflin Scranton branch sold paper products and got into wild high jinks daily. The show has been watched (and rewatched) by millions, and there is no question that some of the smallest roles on the show had some of the funniest and most memorable moments.
Actor Mark York was one of those impressionable actors when he appeared as Billy Merchant on The Office, the properties manager of the office park that's home to Dunder Mifflin's office. The news has broken that Mark suddenly passed away, but how did he die?
How did Mark York die?
Mark, credited on IMDb as Marcus A. York, appeared as Billy Merchant in several episodes in Seasons 2 through 5 of The Office. Mark's family posted in an online obituary that he died after a "brief and unexpected illness." According to TMZ, Mark, who was 55, passed away at Miami Valley Hospital in Ohio.
According to an obituary posted online by the Kreitzer Funeral Home, Mark had been paraplegic since 1988 when, per his personal website, he suffered “an almost fatal, life-changing auto accident.” That life-changing accident led him back to school and then acting.
“With a new lease on life, he attained a triple major in Psychology, Sociology, and Social Work from Anderson University, Indiana, in four years. During his college years, at the urging of a friend, Marcus pursued the avenues of acting and modeling. Having always had an interest in the television and film industry, videos led him to commercials, which led to TV and film,” his website reads.
While his death doesn’t seem to be completely unexpected, Mark’s passing did come on suddenly according to many reports. “His death came quickly after the illness surfaced, but the exact cause of death has not been disclosed,” Deadline reports.
Mark was known for his portrayal of Billy Merchant on ‘The Office.’
Mark’s Billy Merchant became a recurring character on The Office who, like Mark himself, was a paraplegic. Michael brings Billy into the office with good intentions, however, like the rest of the Dunder Mifflin staff, he becomes subject to Michael Scott’s inept and inappropriate behavior.
While Mark’s role on the show was small, his impact was anything but. When speaking to the Dayton Daily News, Mark spoke of how the cast and crew of The Office was supportive of his efforts to raise awareness to help cure paralysis.
"The line producer, Randy Cordray, approved a ‘set visit’ for our foundation to be able to raffle off as a prize in order to bring in the needed funding to cure paralysis. Steve Carell even suggested that we (he) shoot a PSA right there on the set of The Office. Also, Oscar Nunez verbalized to me that he is open to being included in it as well,” he said.
Cast members and fans reacted to the news of Mark's passing.
After the news of Mark’s passing made headlines, fans of The Office and a few cast members of the show took to Twitter to acknowledge the late actor. Rainn Wilson, who played Dwight Shrute on the sitcom, tweeted, “He was a terrific human, a positive force, and a dynamic actor. You will be missed.”
Jenna Fischer, who portrayed Pam Beasley-Halpert on the series, echoed, “Mark was a lovely man and a pleasure to work with. Very funny every time. Much love to his family.” Fans also reacted to the news with sadness. “Damn, rest in peace Mark. As someone in a chair myself, it was awesome seeing him act on one of my favorite shows ever,” one fan wrote.
Another fan remembered the actor’s pivotal role on the show and wrote, “Oh wow, that's sad! His character Billy Merchant was so good. He was one of the only characters who had no room for Michael Scott's nonsense in the show. Great actor, will be missed.”