Robert F. Chew, who played narcotics kingpin Proposition Joe on the HBO crime series "The Wire," has died at age 52, and less than a month after his birthday.
Chew passed away on Thursday, January 17. He died of apparent heart failure in his sleep at his home in the city, where the show was set, his sister, Claris Chew, told the Baltimore Sun. The newspaper said he is also survived by his mother and two sisters.
Chew was born in Baltimore on Dec. 28, 1960. The Baltimore Sun said Chew mentored child and young adult actors at a troupe named Baltimore's Arena Players and helped 22 of them score roles on "The Wire." He also coached young performers who played Baltimore school students in Season 4 of the show."
"Robert was not only an exceptional actor, he was an essential part of the film and theater community in Baltimore," David Simon, creator of "The Wire" and a former Baltimore Sun journalist, told the newspaper. "He could have gone to New York or Los Angeles and commanded a lot more work, but he loved the city as his home and chose to remain here working."
"He understood so much about his craft that it was no surprise at all that we would go to him to coach our young actors in season 4," he added. "He was the conduit through which they internalized their remarkable performances."
"The Wire" aired between 2002 and 2008. Chew's character, whose full name was Joe "Proposition Joe" Stewart, was a narcotics kingpin who would tend to try to solve business disputes peacefully if violence would be avoided.
Chew had previously starred on two episodes of "Homicide: Life on the Street." His final acting role was in the movie "Jamesy Boy," which is set for release this year. Two of Chew's "Wire" co-stars responded to the news about his death on Twitter.
"R.I.P. to the talented Mr Robert Chew #propjoe," Tweeted Michael Kenneth Williams, who played Omar Little.
"Shocked. SO SAD," Lovejoy, who played Assistant State Attorney Rhonda PearlmanTweeted.
Jamie Hector, who played Marlo Stanfield on "The Wire," said on Twitter: "I didn't want to believe this #RIP Robert F Chew, Prop Joe will always be remembered Robert Chew will always be loved and missed!"
Chew's funeral has been scheduled for January 24, according to the website of the Calvin B. Scruggs Funeral Home in Baltimore.