Following a brief illness, the actor passed away on Monday, according to his publicist.
Braugher gained popularity on the NBC series Homicide: Life on the Street, which aired from 1992 to 1998, and is instantly recognisable for his deep voice. In 1998, he was honoured with an Emmy for his portrayal of the stubborn and conceited Detective Frank Pembleton.
However, his most well-known role was playing the witty Captain Raymond Holt in the popular comedy Brooklyn Nine-Nine, where he costarred with Andy Samberg for eight seasons. For his role as the no-nonsense, Black, and gay boss of the precinct, Holt, he received four Emmy nominations in addition to two Critics Choice Awards for best supporting actor in a comedy series.
Braugher, the youngest of four children born in Chicago in 1962, attended the Juilliard School of drama after receiving a Stanford scholarship to study theatre.
He portrayed a Union soldier in one of the first African American regiments in the American Civil War in the 1989 film Glory, which marked his feature film debut. Denzel Washington, who costarred with Braugher in the movie, won best supporting actor out of the three Oscars for the movie.
After that, he acted in several television films, including reimaginings of the legendary crime series Kojak, until he made his breakthrough in the highly regarded police drama Homicide: Life on the Street.
Detective Pembleton, played by Braugher, was referred to as “the smartest, sharpest master of the art of interrogation” in a 2010 Guardian article. In 1998, his final year on the show, he received an Emmy nomination after being shortlisted twice.
For the 2006 miniseries Thief, in which he played the leader of a heist that balanced a risky operation with personal struggles, Braugher was awarded his second Emmy.
During his thirty-year career, he received eleven Emmy nominations and frequently portrayed police and military figures, most notably in his adored role on Brooklyn Nine-Nine.
Additional appearances included a general in the science fiction miniseries The Andromeda Strain, an army captain on the military drama Last Resort, and a police officer giving inside information to his disgraced partner on the television series Hack.
He discussed the difficulties of portraying police on television in an interview with Variety in 2020.
“I look up after all these decades of playing these characters, and I say to myself, it’s been so pervasive that I’ve been inside this storytelling, and I, too, have fallen prey to the mythology,” he said.
“Cops breaking the law to quote, ‘defend the law,’ is a real terrible slippery slope. It has given license to the breaking of law everywhere, justified it and excused it. That’s something that we’re going to have to collectively address – all cop shows.”
Many former co-stars and creatives who had worked with Braugher shared tributes on social media.
In a post on Instagram, Braugher’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine co-star Terry Crews wrote: “I’m honored to have known you, laughed with you, worked with you and shared 8 glorious years watching your irreplaceable talent. This hurts.“You left us too soon. You taught me so much. I will be forever grateful for the experience of knowing you. Thank you for your wisdom, your advice, your kindness and your friendship. Deepest condolences to your wife and family in this difficult time. You showed me what a life well lived looks like.”
Fellow Brooklyn Nine-Nine star Chelsea Peretti also posted on Instagram with memories from the set: “Will miss your dulcet tones. Forever lucky to have gone on such a journey with you. Ringside seat.“You were so funny to me and the epitome of still waters run deep. I will always cherish our conversations, often with me hanging in your doorway barring your exit, and the insane opportunity to be your sidekick.”
Marc Evan Jackson, who played Holt’s husband Kevin, posted a photo of the pair of them on set, writing “O Captain. My Captain.”
A recollection of Penny, Crews, and Braugher conversing on set is one that Prentice Penny, the showrunner of Insecure and writer for Brooklyn Nine-Nine, shared: “and then when a white person would walk by, he’d look serious again.” Next, he leaned in and remarked, “They’ve got to stay on their toes.”
The actor Reed Diamond, who costarred with Braugher in Homicide: Life on the Street, recalled their time in drama school in a statement: “I was thrust into a spear-bearing role in his fourth-year production of Othello at Juilliard as a first-year student.” Every night, I was in awe of his incredible performance in the lead role. I followed him to Homicide a few years later and was astounded by his skill and strength.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine employee Ryan Case recalled other moments from X, such as editing the pilot: “My ‘challenge’ was finding takes where he wasn’t smiling.” We intended to reserve that for last. It was just so amazing to watch him perform his first comedy act like a giddy schoolboy.
The Oscar- and Grammy-winning musician Questlove called Braugher “one of my fav character actors” in an Instagram post. “I would commit to a show on the strength of him being a character,” he wrote.
In addition, Braugher recently portrayed New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet in the drama She Said, which was based on the newspaper’s coverage of the Harvey Weinstein affair. Together with Christine Baranski and Audra McDonald, he co-starred in the last season of The Good Fight as the charming attorney Ri’Chard Lane.