Private: Spalding Gray

Vanishing Act,” an examination of Spalding Gray’s disappearance, is this week’s New York Magazine cover story:

The last his family saw of Spalding was Saturday, January 10, when he took the kids to see Big Fish, the story of a dying father’s relationship with his son, at the Loews Village on Third Avenue and 11th Street. After the movie, Gray wept.

Gray had openly talked before about killing himself by jumping off the Staten Island Ferry, which he rode often just to relax. On the day before he went missing, he had been observed by ferry staff placing his wallet on a bench and wandering ominously over to the railing. He was later escorted off the ferry by security guards.

There had been other ostensible attempts at suicide, too, other notes. Since September 2002, there were three official attempts—such as the time he paced the bridge connecting Sag Harbor to North Haven, hyperventilating and balling his fists until he was talked down—and numerous other moments when Gray apparently flirted with his own death. But Gray always left word of his intentions and he didn’t seem to care who received it. At one point last fall, he left a message on the home answering machine, telling his family he intended to jump from the Staten Island Ferry. More than once he left notes on the kitchen table, one of which was discovered by Forrest.

But this time, nothing.