The Bodyguard star Bill Cobbs dies aged 90 as tributes pour in for veteran actor

Actor Bill Cobbs, who was known for his roles in movies including The Bodyguard and Night at the Museum, and TV series The Sopranos, has died aged 90 it has been announced.

The actor won a Daytime Emmy at the age of 86 for his role in the series Dino Dana and appeared in more than 150 films and TV series during his career.

According to his brother Thomas, who broke the news on Wednesday via Facebook, Bill died on Tuesday 25 June.

"We are saddened to share the passing of Bill Cobbs. On Tuesday, June 25, Bill passed away peacefully at his home in California," read his post. "A beloved partner, big brother, uncle, surrogate parent, godfather and friend, Bill recently and happily celebrated his 90th birthday surrounded by cherished loved ones. As a family we are comforted knowing Bill has found peace and eternal rest with his Heavenly Father. We ask for your prayers and encouragement during this time."

Bill Cobbs and Kevin Costner
Bill with Kevin Costner in The Bodyguard -Credit:Arlett Vereecke / Avalon

Bill was born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1934 and served in the US Air Force as a radar technician before working in offices and selling cars. In 1970, when he was 36, he went to New York to find work as an actor and won his first roles on stage before making his feature film debut in the cult movie The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 in 1974 alongside Walter Matthau and Robert Shaw.

He went on to appear in movies including the comedy Trading Places, and dramas Suspect and The Color of Money, before starring as the manager of Whitney Houston's character Rachel in The Bodyguard in 1992.

After that movie was a huge hit, Bill went on to appear in sci-fi action movie Demolition Man with Sylvester Stallone, Coen Brothers' movie The Hudsucker Proxy with Paul Newman and Tim Robbins, and Tom Hanks' directorial debut, That Thing You Do! about a 1960s pop band, where he played a fictional legendary jazz musician.

Bill Cobbs and Connor Trinneer
Bill in an episode of Star Trek Enterprise with Connor Trinneer -Credit:DSC_5416.JPG

One of his most famous movie roles was as Reginald, one of three security guards, along with Mickey Rooney and Dick Van Dyke, in Night at the Museum who doesn't tell Ben Stiller's Larry that the exhibits at New York's Museum of Natural History have a tendency to come alive at night. He also appeared in the movie's two successful sequels.

On TV, Bill appeared in numerous series including NYPD Blue, ER, The Practice, Star Trek: Enterprise and The Sopranos, where he played Reverend James, Sr. His most recent TV role was in the Marvel series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D in 2020.

Tributes to the actor from fans and colleagues have flooded in, with The Wire star Wendell Pierce writing on X: "A father figure, a griot, an iconic artist, that mentored me by the way he led his life as an actor. He played my father twice, in I'll Fly Away and The Gregory Hines Show. Each time imparting wisdom with a word of encouragement."

Actress Penny Johnson Jerald, who co-starred with Bill in the comedy Homeroom, wrote: "What a guy! What a soul! What a talent! What a thespian! What a legend! So many beautiful, laugh out loud moments with the great bill cobbs."

Meanwhile, Star Trek fans sent their own fitting tribute: "His legendary talent will absolutely be missed and may his memory live long and prosper."