The Office fans are mourning the death of Mark York, the 55-year-old actor who had a recurring role as Scranton Business Park property manager Billy Merchant between the sitcom’s second and fifth seasons. According to Variety:
Following a brief and unexpected illness, York died early in the morning on May 19 at the Miami Valley Hospital in Ohio. The Montgomery County Coroner’s Office confirmed his death, although the exact cause of death has not been disclosed.
While, over the course of nine seasons and 201 episodes, The Office was never short on bit players, York stood out—and turned his role into a recurring one—by being one of the few people who called Michael Scott (Steve Carell) out on his bullsh*t. York’s first appearance on the show was a particularly cringe-y moment: In the season 2 episode “The Injury” (you know, the episode where Michael gets his foot stuck in a George Foreman grill… then Dwight sustains a concussion while attempting to save him), Michael invites Billy to pay a visit to the “CONFERENCE ROOM!!” with the sole purpose of comparing lightly toasting his foot with an As Seen on TV cooking device to be a nearly lifelong wheelchair user.
York’s comedic timing in the scene was impeccable, and his frustration with having to answer Michael’s idiotic questions about using a wheelchair resulted in the kind of blow-up we didn’t often see from the characters Michael pestered. At one point, the scene cuts to a confessional interview with Jim Halpert (John Krasinski), in which he admits that he wants “to clamp Michael’s face in a George Foreman grill.” Don’t we all?
According to York’s obituary, “Even though he has been paraplegic since 1988, he had such an outgoing, uplifting, positive attitude and personality. He always tried to look at what he could accomplish and do, not what he couldn’t do. He had experienced many travel opportunities and many dreams for the future. In the past several years, he had been working as an inventor, and had obtained two patents for his inventions.”
No word on whether one of those inventions was for a face-shaped George Foreman grill.
You can watch York’s first, and arguably most memorable, appearance on The Office above.