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Robert F. Chew, the actor who played “Proposition Joe” on the cult HBO series “The Wire,” is died in his sleep at his Baltimore home, the Baltimore Sun reports.

He was 52. The cause of death is believed to be heart failure.

Chew, who appeared in “Homicide” and “the Corner,” as well as “The Wire,” also taught young adult actors at Baltimore’s Arena Players. In 2006, he helped 22 of his students land parts in “The Wire.”

“Robert was not only an exceptional actor, he was an essential part of the film and theater community in Baltimore,” David Simon, creator of ‘The Wire’ said in an email to The Sun Friday.  “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 funeral will be held nextThursday at Calvin-Scruggs Funeral Home in Baltimore.

He is survived by his mother, Henrietta; and two sisters, Tonya Chew and Maureen Little. All live in Baltimore.

For an extended profile of Chew, go to the Baltimore Sun.