René Auberjonois, best known for his roles in “Boston Legal” and “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine,” died at his home in Los Angeles due to metastatic lung cancer. He was 79.
His son Rèmy-Luc confirmed the news to the Associated Press.
Auberjonois was a prolific television actor, appearing as Paul Lewiston in 71 episodes of “Boston Legal” and as Clayton Runnymede Endicott III in ABC’s long-running sitcom “Benson” — a role that earned him an Emmy nomination for best supporting actor in a comedy in 1984. He played shape-shifter Changeling Odo in “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine,” and carried that role into video games, voicing Odo in “Harbinger” and “The Fallen.” His appearance as Judge Mantz in ABC’s “The Practice” earned him another Emmy nod for guest actor in a drama in 2001.
His guest roles were numerous, appearing on classics like “Murder, She Wrote,” “The Jeffersons,” “The Outer Limits,” “L.A. Law,” “Stargate SG-1,” “Frasier,” and the more recent hit “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.”
His first film role came with “MASH,” in which he played Father Mulcahy in the first of several collaborations with Robert Altman. He would go on appear in Altman’s revisionist Western classic “McCabe & Mrs. Miller,” “Brewster McCloud,” and “Images.” Other film credits include Roy Bagley in 1976’s “King Kong” and Reverend Oliver in “The Patriot,” as well as parts in “Batman Forever,” “Eyes of Laura Mars” and “Walker.”
Before his entry into Hollywood, Auberjonois worked in theater, earning a Tony for best lead actor in a musical for his role opposite Katharine Hepburn in “Coco.” He received further Tony nominations for 1973’s “The Good Doctor,” 1984’s “Big River,” and 1989’s “City of Angels.”
Auberjonois was also known for his voice roles, particularly in 1989’s Disney Renaissance hit “The Little Mermaid,” in which he voices Chef Louis and sang the memorable “Les Poissons.” Fans of “The Princess Diaries” would recognize him as the voice of Mia Thermopolis’ father, Prince Philippe Renaldi, in an uncredited role.
In addition to his son, he is survived by his wife of 56 years, writer Judith Auberjonois; sisters Marie-Laure Degener and Anne Auberjonois; daughter Tessa Auberjonois; son-in-law Adrian Latourelle, daughter-in-law Kate Nowlin and three grandchildren.
He was remembered on social media by his “Deep Space Nine” co-star Armin Shimerman, who played Quark.
“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.”
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
William Shatner also paid tribute, writing that “to sum up his life in a tweet is nearly impossible.”
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
Edward James Olmos wrote that he “was honored to have worked with him on ‘Windows on the World,’ his second to last film. He delivered an amazing rendition of NY NY – a brilliant artist.”
Rene Auberjonois a true gentleman & passionate artist passed onto the next understanding & we will miss him so much. I was honored to have worked with him on Windows On The World, his second to last film. He delivered an amazing rendition of NY NY – a brilliant artist #sswa #RIP pic.twitter.com/KR5PKylNZe
— Edward James Olmos (@edwardjolmos) December 8, 2019
George Takei called his passing “a terrible loss.” “He was a wonderful, caring, and intelligent man. He shall be missed.”
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
Jayne Brook, who played his daughter on “Boston Legal” and starred in “Chicago Hope,” on which Auberjonois guested, expressed her sorrow as his death. “My thoughts and prayers go out to his family, friends, and his many fans. May he rest in peace.”
I am so sorry to hear that the wonderful René Auberjonois has passed away. I had the great honor to play his daughter on Boston Legal. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family, friends, and his many fans. May he rest in peace. ❤️ pic.twitter.com/eRxwfmmkcy
— Jayne Brook (@thejaynebrook) December 8, 2019
See more reactions below.
A very nice man and a brilliant actor. RIP Rene Auberjonois.
— Michael McKean (@MJMcKean) December 8, 2019
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
Rene Auberjonois has left us. So sad. Such a lovely man. Had.the great pleasure of working with him on stage doing Bulgakov’s Heart of a Dog. And in Nicaragua in the height of the Contra-War, filming Walker. A gentleman and a scholar, chef and photographer. Miss him already. pic.twitter.com/5CLzNzBjt8
— Xander Berkeley (@xanderberkeley) December 8, 2019
Rene Auberjonois 1940~2019.
A beloved member of our Star Trek family, among so many other decorated achievements on stage and screen. But above all, one of the sweetest humans I have ever met.
May he rest in God’s peace.#ReneAuberjonois #RIP pic.twitter.com/mK0aua9beV
— Doug Jones (@actordougjones) December 8, 2019