We regret to bring the news that Ron Glass has passed away, at the age of 71. A spokesperson for the movie/TV actor has confirmed the news of his death to multiple outlets. His agent has confirmed respiratory failure as the cause of death.
Born Ronald E. Glass in Evansville, Indiana, in the year 1945, Glass made his small screen debut in the early 1970s, having acted onstage at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis prior to that. Glass appeared in episodes of such classic '70s TV shows as All in the Family, Sanford and Son and Hawaii Five-O, prior to landing a recurring role as Detective Ron Harris on Barney Miller in 1975 (a role he would go on to play for the next seven years on the cop comedy/drama series).
Glass became an icon in the geek community in the early 2000s when he played the role of Shepherd Derrial Book in Joss Whedon's short-lived cult western-flavored sci-fi TV series, Firefly. The actor reprised his role as Shepherd Book in Serenity, Whedon's 2005 movie adaptation of Firefly. The actor appeared on too many TV series to list here over the course of his forty year (plus some) career, including such cult and/or geek TV shows as The Twilight Zone, Star Trek: Voyager and Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (which Whedon co-created).
Glass' peers have begun to share their condolences over his passing, with his Firefly and Serenity costars Alan Tudyk and Sean Maher having posted on their Twitter accounts. Tudyk praised Glass for his "beyond infectious" laugh and for being the sort of "sassy smart ass" that Tudyk admires most of all, while Maher posted the following:
"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."
Jewel Staite shared her own memories of Glass:
"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."
Adam Baldwin said that Glass was "Among the kindest and gentlest souls to have walked this earth with us." Series lead, Nathan Fillion, simply referenced one of his last exchanges with Glass from Serenity: "'Shepard, don't move.' 'Won't go far.' We love you, Ron Glass. Don't go far." Whedon also posted the following video to his Twitter account:
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
In addition to his live-action work, Glass lent his voice to a number of noteworthy animated TV series over the years; among them, Rugrats, Disney's Aladdin, Superman: The Animated Series and The Proud Family. Glass also voiced a character in the cartoon TV show-turned animated movie Recess: School's Out in 2001 and appeared in such films as Deep Space, Houseguest, Lakeview Terrace and Death at a Funeral (2010), among others, over the course of his acting career.
Whether they knew him best for his work on Barney Miller and/or Firefly (or another TV show/movie altogether), Glass' fans no doubt appreciated him for his good-natured wit and kindly presence, as well as the overall sense of decency and wisdom that Glass exuded through his acting work. That extended to his life offscreen too, as Glass was himself a member of the Soka Gakkai International: a worldwide Buddhist organization that is dedicated to serving the purpose of "peace, education, and cultural exchange."
Whedon has also suggested that fans moved to honor Glass' memory should help support The Al Wooten Jr. Heritage Center, an organization that he worked with that provides afterschool programs for children.
R.I.P. Ronald E. Glass: July 10th, 1945 - November 25th, 2016