‘Firefly’ Star Ron Glass Dead At Age 71, Joss Whedon And Nathan Fillion Respond

Joss Whedon and Nathan Fillion, of Firefly fame, spoke about the passing of Ron Glass via Twitter on Saturday afternoon. Glass, affectionately known for his roles in the popular TV shows Barney Miller and Firefly passed away on Friday night from respiratory failure. Glass was 71 at the time of his death and had been acting up until 2014.

TMZ reported that Glass’s death was confirmed by his representative on Saturday afternoon. Jeffrey Leavitt, the representative for Glass, told TMZ the following.

“Ron passed late last night of respiratory failure. Ron was a private, gentle and caring man. He was an absolute delight to watch on screen. Words cannot adequately express my sorrow.”

Glass began his acting career as a character actor in 1970s sitcoms such as All In the Family, Maude, and Hawaii Five-0. According to Variety, Glass was born in Evansville, Indiana, near the Illinois state border and studied drama and literature at the University of Evansville.

As a prolific TV actor, Glass made a name for himself with reoccurring roles on Sanford and Son, and by 1975, Glass found a consistent role on Barney Miller playing Detective Ron Harris. Barney Miller would turn out to be Glass’s longest running TV role, lasting from 1975 until 1982.

As Barney Miler ended, Glass also appeared on 18 episodes of The New Odd Couple, a remake of the original 1970 series. Glass would go on to maintain consistent work throughout the 1980s and ’90s, adding his voice acting chops to animated series such as Rugrats, where Glass voiced Randy Carmichael, and most recently appeared on Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Although Glass was known for his numerous TV roles, the most beloved is his performance as Shepherd Book on the short-lived Joss Whedon series Firefly. Firefly only lasted one season, but the cult sci-fi western has inspired numerous spinoffs including cartoons, books, graphic novels, and a full-length movie, Serenity, which Glass also starred in 2005.

Ron Glass speaks to Sean Maher, who co-starred as Dr. Simon Tam on "Firefly."
Ron Glass speaks to Sean Maher, who co-starred as Dr. Simon Tam on "Firefly." [Image by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images]

Shepherd Book, Glass’s character in Firefly, remains an enigmatic character 15 years after the show originally aired on Fox. In the series, Shepherd Book was a preacher who begrudgingly helped the Firefly crew on their various dangerous schemes throughout the season. Very little was ever discussed about Shepherd Book’s past during the span of Firefly, but the mystery inspired a series of graphic novels modeled after Glass’s image of the character, including Serenity: The Shepherd’s Tale.

Nathan Fillion commented on Twitter about Ron Glass's death.
Nathan Fillion commented on Twitter about Ron Glass's death. [Image by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP Images]

Glass’s Firefly cast mates were broken-hearted to hear of his passing. Joss Whedon made a statement on Twitter, saying “He got there with grace, humor & enormous heart. He was, among so many other things, my Shepherd. Raise, appropriately, a glass. Rest, Ron.”

Nathan Fillion, who played Captain Malcolm Reynolds in Firefly and Serenity also commented on Glass’s death.

“Shepard, don’t move. Won’t go far. We love you, Ron Glass. Don’t go far,” Fillion tweeted on Saturday afternoon. The tweet is a reference to a Firefly episode.

Glass’s death comes as one of many in 2016. Other celebrities who have died this year include David Bowie, Prince, Leonard Cohen, Gene Wilder, Alan Rickman, and most recently The Brady Bunch star Florence Henderson, and Cuban communist leader Fidel Castro.

Glass had a long and full career playing numerous characters on TV. In 1982, he won his first and only prime time Emmy for his role as Ron Harris on Barney Miller and gained enormous sci-fi fandom from his work on Firefly.

The Firefly star lived in Los Angeles, California. Glass never married and never had any children, but according to Gizmodo, the actor was very involved in the California Buddhist community, and served as a member of Soka Gakkai International. No funeral arrangements have been made public at this time.

[Featured Image by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images]