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André Braugher, star of 'Brooklyn Nine-Nine' and 'Homicide,' dies at 61

André Braugher, who won Emmys for his roles on <em>Homicide: Life on the Street </em>and <em>Thief</em>, played a cherished police captain on <em>Brooklyn Nine-Nine</em> in recent years.
Dia Dipasupil
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Getty Images for FLC
André Braugher, who won Emmys for his roles on Homicide: Life on the Street and Thief, played a cherished police captain on Brooklyn Nine-Nine in recent years.

Updated December 12, 2023 at 11:23 PM ET

André Braugher, an Emmy Award-winning dramatic actor who translated his studied deadpan into comedic genius as Capt. Raymond Holt on Brooklyn Nine-Nine, has died. He was 61.

His publicist, Jennifer Allen, said Braugher died Monday after a brief illness.

Braugher spent 100 episodes playing Det. Frank Pembleton on Homicide: Life on the Street, where he won a primetime Emmy for outstanding lead actor in a drama series. He won his second Emmy for the FX miniseries Thief, in which he played the leader of a heist crew. Braugher also acted in memorable movies like Glory, Spike Lee's Get on The Bus, Primal Fear and City of Angels.

But Braugher toldNBC's The Today Show in 2015 he was eager to make the transition to comedy.

"I felt I needed to grow as an artist," he said. "I feel like my mind is expanding, my capability as an actor. My ability to mine the comedy is really rising up."

He became beloved for his imagining of Capt. Raymond Holt, a gay, stoic police captain in Brooklyn, whose ramrod delivery balanced Andy Samberg's buoyantly ridiculous Det. Jake Peralta.

Despite being a newcomer to comedy when he started his run on Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Braugher went on to receive four Emmy nominations for best supporting actor in a comedy series.

The show was a critical darling and introduced Braugher's acting chops to a fresh audience. It also tackled serious issues, including police brutality, when other sitcoms shied away.

Braugher told Variety that the subject was imperative.

"Brooklyn Nine-Nine has to commit itself, as a comedy, to telling the story of how these things happen, and what's possible to deal with them. I don't have any easy answers, nor do I have a window into the mind bank of this writing staff," he said. "Can you tell the same story? Can anyone in America maintain any kind of innocence about what police departments are capable of?"

Braugher's colleagues and friends took to social media to write about how sad they were at hearing the news. Brooklyn Nine-Nine costar Terry Crews wrote on Instagram, "I'm honored to have known you, laughed with you, worked with you and shared eight glorious years watching your irreplaceable talent. This hurts."

Comedian Joe Lo Truglio, who also starred in Brooklyn Nine-Nine, took to Instagram to point out Braugher's joyous energy behind the scenes:

"What you probably don't know is that Andre could sing, too, and did often at lunch, belting bassy vocals from his dressing room to whatever new music he found," he wrote. "At first, it was odd because well...*it was Andre Braugher crooning at full volume from behind closed doors*...but then very quickly it made all the sense in the world, because the man was so full of song and that's why the world took notice."

Braugher, who was born and raised in Chicago, earned a B.A. from Stanford University and a graduate diploma from Juilliard.

Earlier this year, he was cast in the Shondaland murder-mystery drama The Residence. The series began production before the WGA strike and was set to resume in January, according to Deadline.

Braugher is survived by his wife, actress Ami Brabson, sons Michael, Isaiah and John Wesley, brother Charles Jennings and his mother Sally Braugher.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Alina Hartounian
Isabella Gomez Sarmiento
Isabella Gomez Sarmiento is a producer with the Culture Desk and NPR's Book of the Day podcast.