This post has been updated; see below for details.
Character actor Lou Myers, who gained his most fame from playing Mr. Gaines in the NBC sitcom "A Different World," has died.
A spokesperson from Myers' nonprofit organization Global Business Incubation Inc. confirmed with the Associated Press that the 77-year-old actor died Tuesday at Charleston Area Medical Center in West Virginia. Though no cause of death was given, he had been in and out of the hospital since Christmas and had recently collapsed. An autopsy is planned.
Myers had a lengthy career on both stage and screen that spanned five decades, but his role on "The Cosby Show" spin-off "A Different World" was his best known. Myers had already appeared on two episodes of "The Cosby Show" as a different character before joining the cast of the spin-off starring Lisa Bonet in 1988.
Myers joined the cast in the show's second season, playing Mr. Gaines, owner and manager of the hangout The Pit. He stayed with it for the next five seasons, until the series ended in 1993.
Myers continued to act regularly after the end of the series, with supporting roles in such films as "Tin Cup," "How Stella Got Her Groove Back" and "The Wedding Planner."
In recent years, Myers had also sang jazz and blues in a cabaret show titled "Negro Music in Revue," which toured around the world.
Myers founded the nonprofit Global Business Incubation Inc. to help small urban businesses.
[FOR THE RECORD: Feb. 21, 2:18 p.m.: While the AP reported Myers age as 76, given to them by his spokesman; other sources list Myers birthdate as September 26, 1935, making him 77 at the time of his death.]