Browncoats are mourning the loss of one of its own after a publicist for Ron Glass confirmed the Firefly actor’s death Saturday. He was 71.
Glass played Shepherd Book, a minister who finds himself aboard a smuggling ship in the outer reaches of space that ends up playing a key role in exposing major government secrets. Firefly lasted only a handful of episodes in 2002 for creator Joss Whedon, but DVD sales created a solid fanbase that led to a 2005 film Serenity.
That film, which earned just $40.3 million worldwide, reunited Glass with an ensemble cast that included Nathan Fillion, Gina Torres, Alan Tudyk, Morena Baccarin, Adam Baldwin, Jewel Staite, Sean Maher and Summer Glau.
Whedon, who would go on to later direct two box office smashes in Marvel’s Avenger series, posted a tweet saying Glass “got there with grace, humor and (an) enormous heart.”
He got there with grace, humor & enormous heart. He was, among so many other things, my Shepherd. Raise, appropriately, a glass. Rest, Ron. pic.twitter.com/yzPly7TmgE
— Joss Whedon (@joss) November 26, 2016
Variety, which was one of the first to report Glass’s death, said no other details about his passing were available.
Ronald E. Glass was born July 10, 1945, in Evansville, Indiana, the state’s third-largest city that also claims other actors like Star Trek: Deep Space Nine‘s Avery Brooks, Dawn of the Dead actor David Emge, and current Miami Marlins manager Don Mattingly.
While he played a minister in Firefly, Glass himself actually did graduate from Saint Francis Seminary in Ohio, which is now a retirement community. He then attended the University of Evansville, earning degrees in both drama and literature.
He made his stage debut at a Minneapolis theater in the early 1970s before moving to Hollywood and getting roles in shows like Sanford & Son, Hawaii Five-O and All in the Family.
Glass’s big break would come in 1975 when he was cast as Det. Ron Harris in Hal Linden’s long-running Barney Miller.
That would lead to other work throughout the 1980s, including a short stint as one of the stars of The New Odd Couple for ABC, and then a number of guest star roles including Designing Women, Amen, Mr. Rhodes and Teen Angel. He also made a guest appearance in a 2000 episode of Star Trek: Voyager, as Loken in the episode “Nightingale.”
More recently, Glass popped up on CSI: New York, CSI, Major Crimes, and as Dr. Streiten in early episodes of Whedon’s Agents of SHIELD.
Glass earned a single Emmy nomination in 1982 for his work on Barney Miller.
Some of Glass’s co-stars also shared condolences through Twitter.
“Shepard, don’t move.”
“Won’t go far.”
We love you, Ron Glass. Don’t go far. https://t.co/BAzpzTBLLv
— Nathan Fillion (@NathanFillion) November 26, 2016
Ron Glass was one of the greatest actors to work with. His laugh was beyond infectious and his generosity was ever present. #ripronglass
— alan tudyk (@AlanTudyk) November 26, 2016
Ron Glass was also a sassy smart ass and I prize that very much. A leaf on the wind. #ripronglass
— alan tudyk (@AlanTudyk) November 26, 2016
Happy rebirth, dear Ron Glass.
Among the kindest and gentlest souls to have walked this earth with us.https://t.co/rF1bDPxeRa
— Adam Baldwin (@AdamBaldwin) November 26, 2016
Ron Glass. What an honor it was to know you, to work beside you and to have called you my friend. You will be missed. I love you sir.
— Sean Maher (@Sean_M_Maher) November 26, 2016
This is me acting like an idiot just so I could hear Ron Glass laugh. He was the kind of person that remembered the details, that asked about your family’s well-being. He hugged hard and often. He would laugh till he cried at a sick joke and top it with a worse one. He loved a Grey Goose crantini and spilled one on my white jeans in the heat of telling a story, and then just said, “Girl, those were ugly pants anyway.” I adored him. Everybody did. I love you, Ron. Can’t wait to see you again. “I don’t care what you believe. Just believe it.”
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