'The Wire' actor Robert Chew dies

Known for playing Proposition Joe on HBO television, Robert Chew died at the age of 52 after suffering a heart attack.

Robert F. Chew, who starred as drug kingpin Proposition Joe on HBO’s "The Wire," died Thursday at his Baltimore home. His sister, Clarice Chew, said he suffered a heart attack.

Chew grew up in Baltimore and studied music at Morgan State University for two years. His sister said he worked as music director for the Arena Players community theater.

Chew starred in all five seasons of the hit HBO TV series "The Wire." His other TV credits include "The Corner" and "Homicide: Life on the Street," and the 2004 TV movie "Something the Lord Made." Chew's "The Wire" co-star Jamie Hector tweeted about him Friday:  "I didn't want to believe this #RIP Robert F Chew, Prop Joe will always be remembered."

The character Prop Joe was a highly intelligent and ruthless yet polite and diplomatic Baltimore drug lord. Another sister, Maureen Brown, said strangers would approach Chew on the street in Baltimore and tell him what a great job he did in that role.

"The Wire" creator David Simon released a statement saying, "Robert was not only an exceptional actor, he was an essential part of the film and theater 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."

He added, "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… And apart from that, he was a fine and generous man."


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