Actor played Proposition 'Prop' Joe in HBO's Baltimore-set drama
Robert F Chew, who portrayed ‘Prop’ Joe in cult crime drama The Wire, has died aged 52.
He passed away on Thursday of apparent heart failure. His sister Clarice Chew said he died in his sleep.
As well as starring in The Wire, he also appeared in Homicide: Life On The Street and The Corner, both, like the former, based on books written or co-written by David Simon. He also taught and mentored child and young adult actors at Baltimore’s Arena Players, a troupe he stayed with as his television career blossomed through his work with Simon.
Through the youth theatre, he coached the team of young actors who played students in the Baltimore City School system in The Wire‘s fourth series.
Upon hearing the news, David Simon told the Baltimore Sun: “Robert was not only an exceptional actor, he was an essential part of the film and theatree community in Baltimore. 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 four. He was the conduit through which they internalized their remarkable performances.”
Baltimore casting agent Pat Moran said: “Robert Chew was an incredible actor, as good as any of them that ever stepped on the stage on Broadway or anywhere. This was a great actor, but a greater man.”
Chew’s most-famous character Prop Joe was based in part on a local narcotics figure who was killed in an after-hours club in 1984.
Born in Baltimore, Chew graduated from Patterson High School and attended Morgan State University where he sang in the school’s famous choir.