Lou Myers Dead: 'Different World' Actor Dies At 76

02/20/2013 07:38 pm ET | Updated Feb 21, 2013
  • The Huffington Post/AP

Lou Myers, the actor most known for playing Mr. Vernon Gaines on the NBC sitcom "A Different World," is dead. TMZ reports that the actor died on Feb. 19 at Charleston Medical Center in West Virginia after undergoing a heart-related emergency and falling into a coma. He had previously been hospitalized in December for pneumonia. AP reports that Myers was 76 years-old.

"A Different World" ran from 1987 to 1993 and was conceived as a spinoff from the hugely successful "The Cosby Show," in which the characters attended a historically black university. Myers starred on the show alongside Lisa Bonet and Jada Pinkett. In his later years, Myers would also make memorable appearances in numerous other television shows and films such as "The Wedding Planner," "How Stella Got Her Groove Back," "Tin Cup" and "All About the Andersons."

Myers is survived by his mother and a son.

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Actor Lou Myers, best known for his role as ornery restaurant owner Mr. Gaines on the television series "A Different World," has died.

Tonia McDonald of Myers' nonprofit, Global Business Incubation Inc., said Myers died Tuesday night at Charleston Area Medical Center in West Virginia. She said he was 76. McDonald said Wednesday that Myers had been in and out of the hospital since before Christmas and collapsed recently. An autopsy was planned.

A native of Chesapeake, W.Va., Myers had returned to the state and lived in the Charleston area.

His TV credits included "NYPD Blue," "E.R.," "The Cosby Show," "Touched by an Angel," and more. He also appeared in a number of films, including "Tin Cup," "How Stella Got Her Groove Back," "Wedding Planner" and more.

"A Different World" ran from 1987-93 and originally starred Lisa Bonet from "Cosby" fame. Myers said he owed his introduction to Hollywood to Bill Cosby.

Myers also appeared on Broadway including "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" African American Style and "Oprah Winfrey's The Color Purple."

In 2005, the Appalachian Education Initiative listed Myers as one of 50 "Outstanding Creative Artists" from the state of West Virginia and featured him in their coffee table book Art & Soul.

He began singing jazz and blues with the touring company of "Negro Music in Vogue," according to a biography provided by McDonald.

His Cabaret show has been acclaimed in Berlin, Paris, Hong Kong, Tokyo, and New York, as well as Los Angeles at the Roosevelt Hotel.

Myers was chairman of Global Business Incubation that helps urban small businesses and chairman of the Lou Myers Scenario Motion Picture Institute/Theatre.

He won a NAACP "Best Actor" award for playing the Stool Pigeon in "King Hedley II," a play by August Wilson.

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