Ron Glass signs autographs at the Universal Pictures premiere of Serenity, held at Universal Studios in Los Angeles on Sept. 22, 2005.
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Actor Ron Glass, best known for his role on the police sitcom Barney Miller, has died of respiratory failure. He was 71.

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Glass died Friday night, his agent, Jeffrey Leavitt, confirmed to CNN. “Ron was a private, gentle and caring man. He was an absolute delight to watch on-screen. Words cannot adequately express my sorrow,” he said.

Glass was nominated for an Emmy for best supporting actor for his work on Barney Miller, which ran from the mid-1970s to 1982. Glass portrayed the dapper detective with literary chops, Ron Harris, one of a handful of African Americans on television at the time.

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Another generation may have known Glass as “Shepherd” Derrial Book in the 2002 science fiction series Firefly and its sequel film, Serenity.

Glass was born July 10, 1945, in Evansville, Ind. He graduated from the University of Evansville, where he received a Bachelor of Arts, double majoring in drama and literature. TMZ reports that Glass was an active Buddhist and passed away at his home.

Nate Fillion, Glass’ co-star from the Firefly and Serenity, paid tribute on Instagram on Saturday, telling him, “Don't go far.”

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