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André Braugher, star of 'Brooklyn 99' and 'Homicide', has died at age 61

JUANA SUMMERS, HOST:

Andre Braugher has died after a short illness. He was 61 years old. The actor was best known for playing police officers on two long-running shows - "Homicide: Life On The Street" and "Brooklyn Nine-Nine." NPR's Isabella Gomez Sarmiento has this appreciation.

ISABELLA GOMEZ SARMIENTO, BYLINE: Andre Braugher made a name for himself playing very serious characters, but he became well-loved in recent years for his comedic role on "Brooklyn Nine-Nine." So "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" is a police procedural spoof where Braugher plays this captain, Raymond Holt, who's corralling a ragtag team of detectives. He's a straight-laced guy. They're a bunch of goofballs. You know the drill. In this scene, Holt finds the detectives standing around trying to guess why a colleague, goody-two-shoes Amy Santiago, is late for work, so he joins in.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "BROOKLYN NINE-NINE")

ANDRE BRAUGHER: (As Raymond Holt) I'd like to play. I'd say she's in line at the bank.

MELISSA FUMERO: (As Amy Santiago) I'm just 70 seconds late. It's not a big deal. Don't worry about it.

BRAUGHER: (As Raymond Holt) Santiago, you will tell us, and you will tell us now.

GOMEZ SARMIENTO: Braugher's "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" co-star, Joe Lo Truglio, says this scene, this moment, is when he found his way as a comic actor because, it turns out...

JOE LO TRUGLIO: Holt guesses right.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "BROOKLYN NINE-NINE")

FUMERO: (As Amy Santiago) There was a problem at the bank.

BRAUGHER: (As Raymond Holt) Hot damn.

LO TRUGLIO: That was, like, the moment where you felt like Andre really loosened up and became very comfortable in his shoes as Holt.

ERIC DEGGANS, BYLINE: He had this authority and this presence that served every character that he played.

GOMEZ SARMIENTO: NPR TV critic Eric Deggans.

DEGGANS: And what was so interesting was that he was able to make it work in drama and comedy.

GOMEZ SARMIENTO: Braugher rose to fame on "Homicide," playing detective Frank Pembleton, a tough cop who solved murders.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "HOMICIDE: LIFE ON THE STREET")

BRAUGHER: (As Frank Pembleton) This is my job. This is what the city of Baltimore pays me to do - to pin murder one on a girl in this situation.

GOMEZ SARMIENTO: He played that role for six seasons, which won him his first Emmy. He won a second one for the FX miniseries "Thief" in 2006. Back then, he told Fresh Air's David Bianculli how he chose his projects.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

BRAUGHER: I like messy dramas. So when I read the pilot, the question in my mind is, is there enough of a mess that needs to be cleaned up that will allow this show to live on?

GOMEZ SARMIENTO: Eric Deggans describes Braugher as...

DEGGANS: A man who elevated the intelligence of his characters in a way that was singular and really impressive.

GOMEZ SARMIENTO: But Joe Lo Truglio says that even though Braugher's characters showcased his savvy, driven side, as a person, he led with his heart.

LO TRUGLIO: The gift that I got from Andre was how he prioritized the people that were important in his life, that he was deeply passionate about his work, and he was a very curious man. But my main takeaway was how much he loved his family.

GOMEZ SARMIENTO: The actor is survived by his wife and three children.

Isabella Gomez Sarmiento, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF GOAPELE SONG, "CLOSER") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Isabella Gomez Sarmiento
Isabella Gomez Sarmiento is a production assistant with Weekend Edition.