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'The Wire' Star Michael K Williams Found Dead at 54

Michael K Williams

For many, he was known best as Omar Little, the gay Robin Hood of a drug-dealing Baltimore in The Wire.

According to reports, Michael K. Williams was found dead in his Brooklyn penthouse Monday afternoon. The news was first published by Page Six. According to the publication, a drug overdose is suspected as the cause of death.

Williams was reportedly found, "unresponsive," by his nephew. He was pronounced dead at 2:12 am. 

“It is with deep sorrow that the family announces the passing of Emmy nominated actor Michael Kenneth Williams,” spokeswoman Marianna Shafran told The Hollywood Reporter. “They ask for your privacy while grieving this unsurmountable loss.”

Williams, who has played in projects like Boardwalk Empire, The Spoils Before Dying, and Lovecraft Country, is currently up for an Emmy Award. He made his name most, arguably through the role of Omar Little on The Wire.

In The Wire, Little was a bit of a neighborhood Robin Hood, taking things from drug dealers and giving it back to the community. Then, in When We Rise, he played Ken Jones, a veteran living with HIV who struggled with questions of identity and addiction. 

“I look at his life and as someone who is like a real American hero,” Williams told Plus for our 2017 cover story. “And it’s real honest for me to tell you that. This is a man who has been on the front lines for our country in the military. He’s a dark-skinned Black man that was in the Navy at a time when it was probably not that easy to get in the Navy. He hid his homosexuality while doing all of that, and then to have all that taken from him. Then to say to himself, ‘OK, I’m gonna turn over a new leaf and move to San Francisco and start a new life for myself.’ Only to be hit by the tidal wave and the front lines of HIV/AIDS, and having to fight that front line battle with the whole meds and everything, having to get proper healthcare. First of all, you have to identify what the damn thing was. You know, that’s four wars. That’s four battles that he’s fought face to face: civil rights, gay rights, HIV, the good old American military. It’s like — and to see him now — to have all that history behind his eyes, and to be in that presence it’s really humbling.”

Williams was not known to be gay though he played Little, Jones, as well as Leonard Pine on Hap and Leonard, all of whom were gay.

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