Actor René Auberjonois, known for his roles on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Boston Legal, died on Sunday at age 79.
His son, Remy Auberjonois, confirmed to EW that the actor died today of lung cancer. Associated Press first reported the news.
Auberjonois was famous for playing Odo, a Changeling and chief of security for the titular space station in the television series Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. He played the character for 173 episodes from 1993-99.
The actor also held significant roles on series like the dramedy Boston Legal, on which he played lawyer Paul Lewiston from 2004-08, and the sitcom Benson, portraying the snooty Clayton Endicott III from 1980-86.
Auberjonois also guest-starred on numerous classic TV programs like The Jeffersons, The Bob Newhart Show, Rhoda, Frasier, and more. His last TV role was a 2016 arc as Walter Nowack on Madam Secretary. Auberjonois was also a prolific voice actor, with parts in projects like The Legend of Tarzan, Justice League, Avatar: The Last Airbender, and even 1989’s The Little Mermaid, as the singing French chef.
He also appeared in films, including five with director Robert Altman. Their first collaboration was 1970’s M*A*S*H, followed by movies like The Player starring Tim Robbins and McCabe & Mrs. Miller with Warren Beatty and Julie Christie. His last film appearance was in First Cow, directed by Kelly Reichardt, due out in 2020.
Born in 1940 in New York City, Auberjonois came from a creative family. He shared his name with his grandfather, a Swiss painter, and his father was writer Fernand Auberjonois. He grew up in Paris as well as upstate New York and later studied theater at Carnegie Mellon University. After graduating, Auberjonois acted in theater productions and won a Tony Award for the Katharine Hepburn-led Coco in 1969.
He was nominated for three other Tonys for The Good Doctor, Big River, and City of Angels. For his TV work, the actor nabbed Emmy nods for Benson and The Practice.
He is survived by his wife and two children.
Fans and fellow performers have mourned Auberjonois’ passing on social media.
“This is a terrible loss. Star Trek fans knew him as Odo from Deep Space Nine. We knew him as René,” fellow Star Trek actor George Takei tweeted. “He was a wonderful, caring, and intelligent man. He shall be missed. When I look out to the stars, I shall think of you, friend.”
Armin Shimerman, Auberjonois’ Deep Space Nine costar, wrote that “the world seems noticeably emptier now. I loved him.”
This is a terrible loss. Star Trek fans knew him as Odo from Deep Space Nine. We knew him as René. He was a wonderful, caring, and intelligent man. He shall be missed. When I look out to the stars, I shall think of you, friend. https://t.co/IE2gtivRcg— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) December 8, 2019
It is with great heartache and loss I share with you the passing of dear,dear Rene Auberjonois.His last message to me was entitled "Don't forget..." I know that I,Kitty,and all that knew him will never forget.The world seems noticeably emptier now. I loved him.— Armin Shimerman (@ShimermanArmin) December 8, 2019
I have just heard about the death of my friend and fellow actor @reneauberjonois. To sum up his life in a tweet is nearly impossible. To Judith, Tessa & Remy I send you my love & strength. I will keep you in my thoughts and remember a wonderful friendship with René.— William Shatner (@WilliamShatner) December 8, 2019
Read tweets honoring Auberjonois below:
Rene Auberjonois was a wonderful actor and an even better human being. It was an honor to write for him. A class act in every possible way. I'm heartbroken. "And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest." #DS9 https://t.co/oDkfleXIM3— Robert Hewitt Wolfe (@writergeekrhw) December 8, 2019
Well, hell. This is not a great day. I was always a fan. Such a versatile actor and by all indications a decent human. RIP.https://t.co/05qfKNcSiN— John Scalzi (@scalzi) December 8, 2019
Oh god. I am sobbing in a parking lot.— Lauren ✨ Galaxy (@LaurenGallaway) December 8, 2019
René Auberjonois was a gift.
From “Les Poissons” to Deep Space Nine, I have loved him most of my life.
We will miss you, friend. pic.twitter.com/TuXqokirw2
RIP Rene Auberjonois, a man who loomed large in the TV & film landscape of my youth. I eventually got to meet him and felt so privileged to have done so. My thoughts are with his wonderful family.— Paul F. Tompkins (@PFTompkins) December 8, 2019