Robert F. Chew, Proposition Joe on ‘The Wire,’ Dies

Chew played low-key Baltimore drug lord

Robert F. Chew, who played the shrewdly calculating Propositon Joe on "The Wire," has died. He was 52.

Chew died of apparent heart failure in his sleep at his home in Northeast Baltimore, his sister, Clarice Chew, told The Baltimore Sun. The actor, who also appeared in "The Wire" creator David Simon's series "Homicide" and miniseries "The Corner," also taught child and adult actors with Baltimore’s Arena Players.

Among his students were the young actors who played students and corner boys in the devastating fourth season of "The Wire."

"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," tweeted Chew's "The Wire" co-star, Wendell Pierce.

Another co-star, MIchael K. Williams, expressed his condolences and retweeted a link to a scene of himself and Chew.

Watch the scene:

Chew was best known for playing the wise, low-key Proposition Joe, a pivotal figure in the Baltimore drug trade. He could make men kill with a sidelong glance and a few well-chosen words, but avoided dirty work himself.

"Robert was not only an exceptional actor, he was an essential part of the film and theater community in Baltimore," Simon said in an email to The Sun. "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."

Chew's passing comes a month after the death of another "The Wire" veteran, Donnie Andrews. Andrews inspired Williams' character, Omar Little, and played one of his protectors on the show.