'The Wire' star Michael K. Williams dead at 54
NEW YORK, Sept 7, 2021 (BSS/AFP) - US actor Michael K. Williams, one of
television's most memorable stars of recent years for his role as Omar Little
in "The Wire," has been found dead in his New York City apartment, police
News of the death of the 54-year-old, who starred as the iconic Baltimore
stick-up man in the groundbreaking television series, triggered an outpouring
of grief among fans and former colleagues.
The actor's representative said it was "with deep sorrow that the family
announces the passing of Emmy nominated actor Michael Kenneth Williams."
"They ask for your privacy while grieving this," said the statement from
Marianna Shafran of Shafran PR.
An officer for the New York Police Department told AFP that Williams had
been found dead in his apartment in Brooklyn by a family member.
The Brooklyn native had been widely hailed for his role in gritty thriller
"The Wire," in which he played a gay armed robber who specialized in holding
up drug dealers.
The series became one of the most popular shows on television and ran
through five seasons from 2002 until 2008.
Williams was also well-known for the role of Albert 'Chalky' White on the
HBO series "Boardwalk Empire."
He received multiple Emmy nominations for his work, including for his turn
in the series "Lovecraft Country," ahead of the 2021 ceremony that will take
place in just under two weeks.
Williams was also nominated for his work playing the husband of blues
singer Bessie Smith in the 2015 film "Bessie."
He was additionally a nominee for 2016's "The Night Of" and for "When They
See US" in 2019, about a group of young Black men wrongly accused of rape in
Central Park in the 1980s.
"While the world is aware of his immense talents as an artist, we knew
Michael as a dear friend who was beloved by all who had the privilege to work
with him," HBO said in a statement.
No official cause of death was given, but several US media quoted law
enforcement sources as saying they suspected a possible drug overdose.
Williams had spoken openly of his past struggles with drug addiction, and
had told US media that he had spent much of his earnings from "The Wire" on
The NYPD told AFP the cause of death will be determined by a medical
- 'Crushed' -
News of Williams' death was met with grief among fans, many of whom
considered him one of the most talented actors of his generation.
David Simon, the former Baltimore crime reporter who wrote the show, said
on Twitter that he was "too gutted right now to say all that ought to be
"Michael was a fine man and a rare talent and on our journey together he
always deserved the best words. And today those words won't come."
Tray Chaney, who played a drug dealer on the show, said he was "crushed."
"No words. I love you bro. RIP to the legend Michael K Williams aka one of
the dopest Actors/Brothers in the world," he said on Twitter.
Bestselling horror writer Stephen King tweeted: "Horrible, sad, and
unbelievable to think we've lost the fantastically talented Michael K.
Williams at the age of 54."
Williams' role as Omar Little was enhanced by a facial scar he said he
received during a New York street fight on the night of his 25th birthday,
when a man slashed him with a razor.
He told NPR in an interview the pronounced scar actually helped advance
his career, as he climbed from being a back-up dancer in music videos for
stars such as Madonna and George Michael to getting speaking roles playing
rough characters in drama shows.
His first big onscreen break came when rapper Tupac Shakur was filming a
movie in New York and cast Williams as his little brother after seeing a
Polaroid picture of him.
He was then cast as a drug dealer in Martin Scorsese's "Bringing Out the
Dead," before landing the role that would make his career in "The Wire,"
written by Simon and ex-homicide detective Ed Burns.
His other film credits included "!2 Years a Slave," "The Road" and "Gone