by Nsenga K. Burton
The blogosphere is lit up with reports that the man who played Proposition Joe on the classic HBO series, “The Wire” has died. Robert F. Chew was found dead in his apartment yesterday, apparently the result of heart failure. David Simon, creator, show runner and executive producer of “The Wire” says Chew was an “exceptional” actor and an “essential” part of the community in Baltimore, MD. Baltimore-Sun media critic David Zurawik writes:
Mr. Chew, who appeared in “Homicide: Life on the Street” and “The Corner,” as well as “The Wire,” also taught and mentored child and young adult actors at Baltimore’s Arena Players, a troupe he stayed with as his television career blossomed in David Simon HBO series. Through his work at the Arena Players Youth Theatre, he brought new talent to the attention of casting directors and coached the team of young actors who played students in the Baltimore City School system in Season 4 of “The Wire.”
In terms of what Mr. Chew brought to Proposition Joe, Simon said: “The Wire cast was an embarrassment of riches and it was easy, I think, for outsiders to overlook some of those who were so essential as supporting players. Robert’s depiction of Proposition Joe was so fixed and complete — from the very earliest scenes — that the writers took for granted that anything we sent him would be finely executed.”
Fellow cast mates tweeted about Chew’s unexpected death.
Actor Jamie Hector who played the sinister character Marlo on the series tweeted:
“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!”
Robert F. Chew was 52.
Read more of Zurawik’s coverage of Mr. Chew’s death at The Baltimore-Sun.