updated 02/21/2013 AT 8:00 AM ET
•originally published 02/21/2013 AT 8:25 AM ET
TV, film and stage actor Lou Myers, best known for playing Mr. Gaines on the sitcom A Different World in the ’80s and early ’90s, has died at 77.
Myers passed away at the Charleston Area Medical Center in his native state of West Virginia after battling pneumonia for several months, TMZ.com reported.
Myers was born in Chesapeake, W.V., the son of a Cabin Creek coal miner, according to the Charleston Gazette. After attending West Virginia State University, he got his first acting break as an understudy in the Broadway play The First Breeze of Summer.
He went on to appear in more than a dozen films, including How Stella Got Her Groove Back and The Wedding Planner.
On television, he had roles on ER, JAG and NYPD Blue, but is best remembered for playing Vernon Gaines on A Different World, which was a spin-off from The Cosby Show.
On Broadway, Myers appeared in productions including Oprah Winfrey’s The Color Purple and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. He won an NAACP Image Award for his portrayal of the Stool Pigeon in the play King Hedley II.
An accomplished piano player, Myers also sang jazz and blues with the touring company of Negro Music in Vogue.
He is survived by his mother, Dorothy Jeffries, 95, a son, Melvin Myers, and two grandsons, Brayden and Christian, the Gazette said.