Reg E. Cathey, whose distinctive baritone and memorable roles on hugely popular television shows like “House of Cards” and “The Wire” won him legions of fans and an Emmy Award, died on Friday at his home in New York City. He was 59.His death was announced by David Simon, the creator of “The Wire,” on Twitter on Friday night. The cause was lung cancer, his talent agent, Sarah Fargo, said in an email on Saturday.Though he earned credits in dozens of television shows and movies, it was Mr. Cathey’s portrayal of Freddy Hayes — an empathetic, salt-of-the-earth barbecue pit owner whose restaurant provides a respite for Francis Underwood, the scheming politician in “House of Cards” — that earned him three Emmy nominations and one win for outstanding guest actor in a drama series.
Mr. Cathey assumed a somewhat similar role on “The Wire,” playing a beloved newspaper editor turned political operative whose honesty and integrity are often sought out by the man he works for, Tommy Carcetti (Aidan Gillen).“That voice,” Mr. Simon said in a phone interview on Saturday. “I think we all know that if God comes at you as a white guy, he’s going to sound like Johnny Cash. If God comes to you as a black guy, that’s Reg Cathey you’re hearing.”Reginald Eurias Cathey was born on Aug. 18, 1958, in Huntsville, Ala., to a father who was an Army officer and a mother who worked in the Defense Department. Mr. Cathey grew up in Germany and traveled frequently before moving back to Alabama when he was a teenager. He studied at the University of Michigan — where, reports say, he befriended Madonna and the future comedy star David Alan Grier — and later at the Yale School of Drama.