Thursday, May 23, 2024

Ron Cephas Jones, Emmy-Winning ‘This Is Us’ Actor, Dead at 66

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Ron Cephas Jones, the Emmy-winning actor best known for playing William Hill on This Is Us, has died. He was 66.

A representative for the actor confirmed Jones’ death to PEOPLE on Saturday: “Beloved and award-winning actor Ron Cephas Jones has passed away at the age of 66 due to a long-standing pulmonary issue.”

“Throughout the course of his career, his warmth, beauty, generosity, kindness and heart were felt by anyone who had the good fortune of knowing him,” the statement continued. “He began his career at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe and his love for the stage was present throughout his entire career, including his recent Tony nominated and Drama Desk Award winning performance for his role in Clyde’s on Broadway.”

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“Ron’s inner-beauty and soul was evident to the huge audience from his multi-Emmy award winning performance on This is Us. He is survived by his daughter Jasmine Cephas Jones,” the statement concluded.

Jones was best known for his role on This Is Us as William Hill, the biological father of Randall Pearson (Sterling K. Brown), for which he won a guest acting Emmy in 2018 and another in 2020. That same year, his daughter Jasmine, 34, earned her first Emmy, making the pair the first-ever father-daughter winners in the same year.

The Law & Order: Organized Crime star revealed to The New York Times in 2021 that he privately battled chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and received a double lung transplant at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in 2020, where he was a patient for almost two months.

According to a June 2022 interview with Today, he said his Tony-nominated performance in Clyde’s on Broadway motivated him to make a speedy recovery.

“I don’t want to say a miracle, but I was very fortunate. I had great doctors. It still was a very difficult and arduous recovery. I’m recovering for the rest of my life,” Jones told the outlet. “You don’t get new lungs and start running track. It’s a procedure that you have to constantly work on your body. Medication is involved and therapy.” 

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He previously recalled to Entertainment Weekly in May 2022 how his costars and producers helped him through a life-threatening health scare on his final day on set, telling them: “You cats held me when I was struggling and you didn’t let me go. You’ve been there for a very difficult part of my life. I’m a walking miracle.”

“My whole life has been the stage,” Jones said. “The idea of not performing again seemed worse to me than death.”

In addition to This Is Us, the New Jersey Native appeared in Mr. Robot (2015-2016), The Get Down (2016-2017), Luke Cage (2016-2018), Looking For Alaska (2019) and Truth Be Told (2019-2023).

His film credits include He Got Game (1998), Sweet and Lowdown (1999), Half Nelson (2006), Across the Universe (2007), Glass Chin (2014), The Holiday Calendar (2018), Dog Days (2018) and Dolemite Is My Name (2019).

Prior to that, Jones was a member of New York’s Off-Broadway LAByrinth Theater Company. Among his several theatrical roles was Crooks in Broadway’s 2014 production of Of Mice and Men.

In December, Deadline reported that Jones was cast in the fourth installment of the historical anthology series Genius: MLK/X. He will portray as Elijah Muhammad, the “powerful, confident and complicated” leader of the Nation of Islam and teacher and mentor of Malcolm X in his last credited role.

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