One of the greatest TV actors in history has died. Andre Braugher, best known for his work as policemen on the drama series Homicide: Life on the Street and the comedy series Brooklyn Nine-Nine, passed away on Monday after what his publicist only described in the press as “a brief illness.” Braugher was only 61 years old.

Braugher was born in Chicago and attended the Julliard School. His first role came in film, appearing as one of the soldiers in Glory the Civil War drama about a regiment of African American soldiers in the Union Army. Braugher made many more appearances in movies, including roles in Primal FearGet on the BusCity of AngelsFantastic Four: Rise of the Silver SurferSalt, and his most recent project, She Said, where he gave a typically sturdy performance as New York Times editor Dean Baquet.


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But Braugher was far better known for his work on television, where he had two extremely memorable long-term roles, and many other appearances. He played sidekick to Telly Savalas’ Kojak in a series of TV movies, and then became a cast member on the cop series Homicide: Life on the Street. Inspired by the non-fiction book about the Baltimore Police Department — and in many ways a forerunner to Simon’s influential HBO series The Wire — Homicide was never a ratings smash during its seven seasons on NBC, but it routinely ranked amongst the most critically acclaimed shows of its era, with Braugher’s performance as master detective Frank Pembleton routinely being singled out for praise.

In 1998, Braugher won the Primetime Emmy for Best Actor for his intense performance as Pembleton. (Braugher was nominated for a total of 11 Emmys and one two; the second came as Best Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie for his role in the FX series Thief.)

Braugher appeared on six of Homicide’s seven seasons, and returned for the series-concluding Homicide: The Movie. More recently, Braugher had a second run on a hit police series when he played Captain Raymond Holt on the comedy Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Braugher appeared as Holt on all eight seasons of the series, and remained with the show as it bounced from Fox to NBC.

In between Homicide and Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Braugher starred in both seasons of the award-winning Men of a Certain Age and both seasons of the CBS crime series Hack. He also starred in the lead role on Gideon’s Crossing, the medical drama that aired for one season in 2000 and 2001 on ABC, and had memorable recurring roles on shows like Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, House, and BoJack Horseman, where he voiced California Governor Woodchuck Coodchuck-Berkowitz.

As that variety of credits suggests, Braugher was a remarkable talent with an enormous range. He was equally at home in gritty drama as he was in broad comedy. There was seemingly no end to what he could do. This is a terrible loss.

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