Robert F. Chew, who is best known for his role as manipulative drug kingpin Proposition Joe on "The Wire", has passed away. His sister confirms that the actor died of apparent heart failure in his sleep at his home in Northeast Baltimore, Md., on Thursday, January 17. He was 52.
David Simon, the creator of the HBO crime drama series, remembers Chew, "Robert was not only an exceptional actor, he was an essential part of the film and theater community in Baltimore." He additionally tells Baltimore Sun in an email, "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."
"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," Simon continues singing praise for Chew, whom he also describes as a "fine and generous man" offscreen.
Also mourning Chew's death are his "The Wire" co-stars. Jamie Hector, who played Marlo Stanfield, 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."
Michael Kenneth Williams, who portrayed Omar Little, wrote, "R.I.P. to the talented Mr Robert Chew #propjoe," while Rhonda Pearlman portrayer Deirdre Lovejoy simply wrote, "Shocked. SO SAD."
"To the beloved Robert Chew, a man who was real Bawlmore, and created the iconic character of 'Prop Joe,' may you RIP. A teacher & friend," added Wendell Pierce, who starred as Detective Bunk Moreland. Jermaine Crawford, who played Duquan "Dukie" Weems, also tweeted, "RIP to Mr. Robert F. Chew, a.k.a. Proposition Joe. You impacted our lives more than you'll ever know...love you."
Chew, who had just celebrated his 52nd birthday on December 28, 2012, also appeared on HBO's "The Corner" and NBC's "Homicide: Life on the Street". Throughout his career, he worked with children's theatre companies including Baltimore's Arena Players, where he mentored child and young adult actors and helped 22 of them score roles on "The Wire". He is survived by his mother and two sisters.