Ron Glass, a prolific TV actor known for playing Ron Harris in the sitcom “Barney Miller” and Shepherd Derrial Book in “Firefly,” has died. He was 71. The actor’s rep confirmed the death to Variety, but had no further details regarding the cause or location. Glass was born in Evansville, Ind. and went on to study drama and literature at the University of Evansville. He began his career in Hollywood in episodes of “Sanford and Son,” “Hawaii Five-O” and “All in the Family” in the early ’70s.
In 1975 Glass found his breakout role in “Barney Miller,” set in an NYPD station. His character was a dapper and ambitious intellectual, obsessed with launching his career as a writer. The role earned Glass a Primetime Emmy nomination in 1982 in the supporting actor category. After “Barney Miller,” Glass would go on to star in 18 episodes of the 1982 “The Odd Couple” remake “The New Odd Couple” as well as making guest appearances on “The Twilight Zone,” “Family Matters” and “Murder, She Wrote,” among other shows. In the late 1999 he appeared on two episodes of “Friends” Ross Geller’s divorce lawyer, Russell.
The science fiction community knows him best as Shepherd. In 2002 Glass joined Joss Whedon’s cult favorite “Firefly,” playing a spiritual figure with a mysterious past. Glass would also reprise the role in the 2005 movie “Serenity.” He was also in an episode of “Star Trek Voyager”. Glass was still a regular face on American television as recently as 2014 when he appeared in an episode of “CSI.” That same year he appeared in “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” as Dr. Streiten. Glass never married. He was a member of the Soka Gakkai International, a lay Buddhist organization.