March 3, 2024

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Andre Brugger, Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Homicide actor, dies at 61

Andre Brugger, Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Homicide actor, dies at 61

Andre Brugger, a prolific and critically acclaimed actor whose strength and commanding presence earned him an Emmy Award for his role as a detective in the television drama Homicide: Life on the Street, brings laughs as the tough, sharp-tongued police chief on the street. The “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” sitcom died Monday. He was 61 years old.

His death was confirmed Tuesday by his longtime publicist Jennifer Allen. Mr. Prager, who lived in New Jersey, died after a short illness, she said. It did not say where he died.

Exhibiting no-nonsense authority, Mr. Prager was a natural in police roles, which also included roles as a detective opposite Telly Savalas in the TV movie reboot of the 1970s police series “Kojak” in 1989 and 1990, and as another cop in “Hack,” a series about About a disgraced police officer who becomes a taxi driver’s bodyguard, it ran on CBS from 2002 to 2004.

However, Mr. Prager, a graduate of Stanford University who trained at the Juilliard School in New York, also enjoyed a fruitful and multifaceted career as a stage, film and television actor in roles that did not involve a badge or sidearm.

He made his film debut as Cpl. Thomas Searles, a Boston intellectual turned soldier, in the 1989 film “Glory,” about the 54th Massachusetts Regiment, one of the first black Union fighting units in the Civil War. The film also starred Denzel Washington (who won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role), Morgan Freeman and Matthew Broderick, who played the commander of the white abolitionist regiment, Colonel Robert Gould Shaw. (Shaw was a childhood friend of Mr. Prager’s character.)

“I would rather not work than do the part I’m ashamed of,” Mr. Prager said in an interview that year with The New York Times. “I can tell you now that my mother will be proud of me when she sees me in this role.”

Among his other big screen roles were as an egomaniacal actor in “Get on the Bus” (1996), a talkative road movie directed by Spike Lee about a group of black men who travel to Washington to attend the Million Man March; and the captain of a capsized ocean liner in “Poseidon,” a 2006 remake of the 1970s disaster film “The Poseidon Adventure”; and the United States Secretary of Defense in “Salt” (2010), a spy thriller starring Angelina Jolie.

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In one of his last films, Mr. Prager brought gravitas to the role of Dean Puckett, the former executive editor of The Times, in “She Said” (2022), a drama about the efforts of two Times reporters to document sexual assault by The Times. Movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, who helped ignite the #MeToo movement.

He was also a respected stage actor who appeared in numerous New York Shakespeare Festival productions, including “Measure for Measure,” “Twelfth Night,” “As You Like It,” and “Henry V,” where his performances in the lead role earned him a spot. Obie Award in 1997.

But it was his role as Detective Frank Pembleton in “Murder” that proved indelible. A gritty police procedural series set in the crime-ravaged neighborhoods of Baltimore, Homicide ran on NBC from 1993 to 1999.

“We’ve had so many amazing, incredibly talented actors on this show, but we could see he would be the one The team’s quarterback“He has a great nobility about him,” Tom Fontana, the show’s executive producer, was quoted as saying in a recent Variety article.

While the role made him a familiar prime-time face, Mr. Prager later expressed reservations about heroic portrayals of police officers on television, especially in the wake of Black Lives Matter protests.

“I look up after all these decades of playing these characters, and I say to myself, ‘It was so pervasive that I was inside this story, and I, too,’ I fell prey to myths “It was built,” he said in a 2020 interview with Variety. “It’s like the air you breathe or the water you swim in. It’s hard to see. But because there are so many cop shows on television, this is where the public gets their information about the state of police. Cops who break the law,” he said. Defending the law,” is a truly terrible slippery slope.

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With Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Mr. Braugher will get the opportunity to upend some of the clichés of cop shows by poking fun at them.

Andre Keith Prager was born in Chicago on July 1, 1962, and grew up on the city’s West Side. His mother, Sally, worked for the United States Postal Service. His father, Floyd, was a heavy equipment operator in Illinois.

“We lived in a ghetto,” he told The Times in 2014. “I could pretend to be tough or tough and not square. I was done with not getting into trouble. I don’t consider myself particularly wise, but I will say that it’s pretty clear that some people “They want to get out, some people don’t. I wanted to get out.”

Mr. Prager attended St. Ignatius College Preparatory, a prestigious Jesuit high school in Chicago, and later received a scholarship to Stanford University. His father, who wanted him to become an engineer, was furious when he was drawn to acting instead.

He remembers his father telling him, “Show me black actors who are making a living.” “What the hell are you going to do, move around and travel across the country?”

After graduating from Stanford University with a major in mathematics, he earned a Master of Fine Arts degree from the Juilliard School.

Mr. Prager insisted on living in New Jersey even though he often worked in California. Among his other roles in popular television series, he played an unconventional doctor in the ABC drama “Gideon’s Crossing” (2000-1) and car salesman Owen Thoreau Jr. in the TNT series “Men of a Certain Age” (2009-11). ). He also starred in the sixth and final season of the Paramount+ legal drama “The Good Fight” (2017-22).

Mr. Braugher won an Emmy for “Homicide” in 1998 and another in 1998 2006 For his role as the steely leader of a heist crew in the FX mini-series “Thief,” set in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

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He is survived by his wife, actress Ami Brabson. His sons are Michael, Isaiah and John Wesley. His brother, Charles Jennings. And his mother. His father died in 2011.

Mr. Braugher took a notable turn toward comedy in 2013 with Brooklyn Nine-Nine, in which he played Captain Raymond Holt, a knowledgeable if tough police chief. He received four Emmy Award nominations and won two Critics’ Choice Awards for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series.

It was a counterintuitive role on a number of levels. For example, Mr. Prager didn’t have much experience playing for laughs — in fact, it was a running joke on the show that his character was so deadpan, he had to do it. Tension to smileeven if he’s always been good at destructive wisdom.

“I’ve never done that before,” he told Variety. “Am I good? I remember turning to my wife and asking her: ‘Is this funny?’ And she said: ‘Yes, of course, you haven’t been tricked.’ But I kept looking at it and thinking: ‘Is this good?’ I couldn’t really judge.”

He also mocked stereotypes with his portrayal of Captain Holt as a gay character whose sexual orientation is merely a fact and not a source of amusement.

“As long as he’s not wearing pink pants and singing the YMCA song, it’s all good,” he added. Prager said in a 2018 video interview. “Normally, when you see gay characters on shows, they’re just goofy characters or caricatures,” he added. “But that’s another side of Holt rather than being Holt’s defining characteristic, so that’s what’s important to me.”

He said his teenage son asked him, “Are you playing a gay police captain?” “I said, ‘No, I’m playing a police captain who is gay.’ So we have to sit down and understand what this distinction is.

Rebecca Carballo Contributed to reports.