Andre Braugher Dies, Aged 61

Andre Braugher

by James White |
Published on

Obituaries are never easy to write, but this one hits particularly hard given the feeling of so much great work still to come: Andre Braugher, who made a name for himself playing a variety of authority figures in dramas and comedies has died following a brief illness. He was just 61.

André Keith Braugher was born in Chicago in 1962. The prodigious student attended the prestigious St. Ignatius College Prep in his hometown, then earned a BA from Stanford University and a master*s degree from Juilliard — he received scholarships to all three schools.

He considered medicine as a career but saw performing as more exciting. His initial work, as with so many others, was on the stage, in Public Theater Shakespeare in the Park productions in New York City, playing parts in various productions over the years.

His film career was solid, including roles in Glory, Primal Fear, Spike Lee's Get On The Bus, City Of Angels, Thick As Thieves, Duets Frequency, Fantastic Four: Rise Of The Silver Surfer The Mist and Salt. Most recently, he played a newspaper editor in She Said.

But it was on the small screen that Braugher truly shone, his talent proving rich for both drama and comedy.

He first made a TV name for himself as Detective. Winston Blake on a series of Kojak TV movies that aired in 1989-90 and was former Philadelphia cop turned cab driver Mike Olshansky, on the 2002-04 CBS series Hack.

In between, he portrayed a character based on a real-life doctor on the ABC series Gideon's Crossing.

Still, he'll forever be known for two key roles: Braugher starred as master interrogator Detective. Frank Pembleton on NBC's Homicide: Life On The Street for the first six seasons of the show's acclaimed 1993-99 run, then was another cop, Captain Raymond Holt — this time for laughs — on the sitcom Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

He won his first Emmy for an episode of Homicide, and a second followed for his performance as the leader of a crew planning a high-stakes heist on the FX miniseries Thief. He'd go on to be nominated multiple more times.

Following the news of his passing, a wealth of colleagues and co-stars have come forward to offer warm, heartfelt tributes to his varied career and outstanding personality.

"Can’t believe you’re gone so soon," wrote Nine-Nine co-star Terry Crews. "I’m honored to have known you, laughed with you, worked with you and shared 8 glorious years watching your irreplaceable talent. This hurts. You left us too soon."

And the Nine-Nine writer/producers released their own statement: "Like everyone who was fortunate enough to know Andre, we are heartbroken by the news of his passing. He was one of the most talented dramatic actors in history, and then he decided to try comedy, and he was instantly one of the funniest people ever to do it. But even greater than his acting talent was the happiness and joy he brought to those around him. And his smile… he had the greatest, brightest, most wonderful smile. Our thoughts and love go to his beautiful, amazing family, whom he loved more than anything. We are grateful for the time we had with him."

Braugher is survived by his wife, Ami Brabson (they first met in 1988, she was his onscreen wife, Mary, on Homicide, and they married for real in 1991), three sons, his mother and brother.

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