Robert F. Chew, who played Joseph “Proposition Joe” Stewart on HBO’s hit series The Wire, has passed away at the age of 52. The Baltimore native died in his sleep Thursday of apparent heart failure, according to his sister Clarice Chew.
Chew also appeared in Homicide: Life on the Street as Wilkie Collins. Chew taught child and young adult actors at Baltimore’s Arena Players, bringing some of them onto The Wire as students in the Baltimore City School system in the series’ fourth season.
David Simon, creator of The Wire, said:
“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.”
Proposition Joe was based on a local narcotics figure of the same name who was killed in a Baltimore nightclub in 1984. He appeared in 24 episodes and was the only drug kingpin to appear in every season.
Chew is survived by his mother, Henrietta, and his three sisters: Clarice and Tonya Chew and Maureen Little.
Some of Chew’s former co-stars took to Twitter to pay their respects.
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!
— Jamie Hector (@JamieHector) January 18, 2013
RIP to Mr. Robert F. Chew aka Proposition Joe. You impacted our lives more than you’ll ever know… love you.
— Jermaine Crawford (@JermzCrawford) January 18, 2013
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.
— Wendell Pierce (@WendellPierce) January 18, 2013
We here at The Inquisitr extend our condolences to Mr. Chew’s family and friends.