ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Ron Glass, 1945 - 2016

Updated on December 12, 2016

Ron Glass

Actor Ron Glass has died at the age of 71. To SF fans, he was Shepherd Book on Firefly and Serenity. To those who watched TV in the '70s and '80s he was Det. Ron Harris, NYPD, on Barney Miller. To thousands of young African-American actors he was a role model who appeared in over a dozen movies and too many TV roles to count.

Ronald Earle Glass was born July 10, 1945 in Evansville, Indiana. He died November 25, 2016, in Los Angeles, California. In the seven decades in between, he played such diverse roles as police officers, preachers, a demon, an angel, doctors, repairmen, knights in armor, and aliens.

Ron Glass in the '70s

Ron Glass made his first TV appearance in Sanford and Son in 1972. During the 1970s he had various guest shots in such shows as All in the Family, Maude, Hawaii 5-0, Good Times, and The Streets of San Francisco. He played the Black Knight on Mel Brooks' When Things Were Rotten and an elevator repairman on The Bob Newhart Show.

He also appeared in several made-for-TV movies: Beg, Borrow, or Steal, Let's Switch!, Change at 125th Street, and Foster and Laurie. He was in the theatrical release movie The Crazy World of Julius Vrooder.


Detective Sergeant Ronald N. Harris

Ron Glass had his big break in 1975, when he was cast as Det. Sgt. Harris on Barney Miller. He appeared in all 164 episodes of the show from 1975 to 1982. Detective Sergeant Ronald Nathan Harris was a dapper, urbane gentleman, a man willing to spend money on good tailoring. In addition to being a plainclothes police detective for the NYPD, Harris was a writer. Many episodes mentioned him writing and submitting stories. He wrote and appeared in a cameo role in a porn film ("Hitchcock does it!") that was made for a sting operation. He eventually managed to get a book published called Blood on the Badge. When the show ended, Harris announced that he was leaving the police force to become a full-time writer. Ron Glass was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series for his role as Ron Harris.

The bad brownies incident on BARNEY MILLER

Ron Glass in the '80s and '90s

Ron Glass played various roles in the 1980s and '90s. He played Felix Unger in The New Odd Couple, musician Don Phillips in Rhythm & Blues, teacher Ronald Felcher in Mr. Rhodes, and God's cousin Rod in Teen Angel. He had semi-regular roles in Friends, Amen, and 227, as well as many guest roles in Hart to Hart, Murder, She Wrote, The Royal Family, and Designing Women. He also did voice work during this time for Rugrats, Aladdin, Superman, and Sound of Sunshine - Sound of Rain He appeared in a handful of movies including Houseguest, It's My Party, Deal of a Lifetime, and Gus Brown and Midnight Brewster.

Ron Glass in the 21st Century

In the 21st century, Ron Glass had several guest starring roles in various TV shows, playing judges, lawyers, and doctors, including a recurring role on Shark. He did some voice work in cartoons (Rugrats: All Grown Up!, The Proud Family, Recess: School's Out) and video games (Fable II, Ancient Space). He made a few movies, including the reboot of Death at a Funeral. But the role that brought him back to the attention of audiences world-wide was co-starring in Firefly.

Ron Glass had several science fiction roles in the 21st century, from playing an alien doctor on Star Trek: Voyager to Captain Grenman in Strange Frame to joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe by playing Phil Coulson's doctor in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. But his biggest science fiction role was as Shepherd Book in the TV show Firefly and the movie Serenity.


Shepherd Book

His career was revived on Joss Whedon's Firefly, playing the enigmatic cleric, Shepherd Derrial Book. Shepherd Book left the monastery, having decided to wander amongst mankind for a while, and took passage on the Firefly-class spaceship Serenity. Although a shepherd, a man of God, he had a surprising range of knowledge and skills. He knew a lot about crime, weapons, scripture, Alliance military strategy and tactics, cooking, espionage, gardening, and philosophy. He refused to reveal his past, but proved a good friend to Captain Mal Reynolds and the crew of Serenity.

I've been out of the abbey two days. I've beaten a lawman senseless. Fallen in with criminals. I watched the captain shoot the man I swore to protect. And I'm not even sure if I think he was wrong.

You don't fix the Bible... It's not about making sense. It's about believing in something, and letting that belief be real enough to change your life. It's about faith. You don't fix faith, River. It fixes you.

Shepherd Book and the Special Hell, FIREFLY

Ron Glass in Science Fiction and Fantasy

(click column header to sort results)
TV Show or Movie  
"I of Newton," TWILIGHT ZONE
Jerry Merris
"Bad Moon Rising," ALADDIN
News Anchorman
the Angel Rod
"Nightingale," STAR TREK: VOYAGER
Philo D. Grenman
Dr. J. Streiten
"Pilot" & "The Magical Place," AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.
Col. Edwards & Prof. Risseau

I of Newton, from TWILIGHT ZONE

Obituaries for Ron Glass

Most obituaries for Ron Glass focused on his role as Det. Sgt. Ron Harris of the NYPD's 12th Precinct. My obituary for Krypton Radio focused on Shepherd Book, because Krypton Radio is a science fiction-based website. One British obituary didn't even mention Barney Miller; one reader suggested (and I agreed) that the writer was probably too young to remember the show.

The New York Times' obituary

Variety's obituary.

CNN's obituary

The L. A. Times' obituary

Ron Glass Interview

Favorite Role

Of the many roles played by Ron Glass, which was your favorite?

See results


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Robsthe1 profile image

      Robert Walker 

      23 months ago from Atlanta, GA.

      Always remember Ron Glass on TV shows as a kid growing up in the 70's. He was always funny and classy. R.I.P. Ron and thank you for your artistry.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)