Emmy-winning actor Reg E. Cathey has passed away at the age of 59, possibly from lung cancer. Cathey was born in Huntsville, Alabama on August 18, 1958. He spent much of his childhood in West Germany before returning to America and studying theater at both The University of Michigan and the Yale School of Drama. Cathey’s career began on the series Square One, a mathematics based educational children’s show. He was the announcer for most of the game shows that were incorporated into the series. He followed with more traditional acting roles, making his film debut as a reporter in the Chevy Chase comedy Funny Farm.
Cathey kept busy through the 90s with roles in the movies What About Bob, The Mask, Clear and Present Danger, and Se7en. He was working just as much on TV, playing a klingon in a later episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation and appearing in the made for TV movie And the Band Played On about the early days of the AIDS epidemic. He also appeared on ER and in an episode of Homicide: Life on the Street – as a character he brought back for the Homicide movie two years later. In 2000 he was in the movie American Psycho and following that he was in the movies Pootie Tang and S.W.A.T. Around the same time he wound up doing an eight-episode run on the HBO series Oz. He’s also guest starred on three different series in the Law & Order franchise.
In 2006 Cathey was cast as Norman Wilson on The Wire, appearing in 23 episodes over the course of the show’s final two seasons. The Wire creator David Simon announced Cathey’s death in a heartfelt tweet earlier today.
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Reg Cathey, 1958-2018. Not only a fine, masterful actor — but simply one of the most delightful human beings with whom I ever shared some long days on set. On wit alone, he could double any man over and leave him thinking. Reg, your memory is a great blessing.
11:21 PM – Feb 9, 2018
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Cathey appeared in several more films after this, including St. Vincent and The Fantastic Four. But the majority of his career remained on television. He followed The Wire with three episodes of Grimm before being cast as restaurant owner Frank on House of Cards. Cathey popped up repeatedly during the first three seasons of the Netflix show and was nominated for the Outstanding Guest Star in a Drama Series Emmy every year he was on the show – winning in 2015.
He continued to guest star on various shows, including The Good Wife, The Blacklist, and Inside Amy Schumer. Cathey’s last leading role on a TV series was on the horror series Outcast and his final role was in the Oprah Winfrey-starring TV movie, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. His fans will miss the actor’s deep baritone voice and the beautiful intensity he brought to every role he played.