'Law & Order' Actor Dies After Long Illness: Harry Johnson Was 81

The actor also appeared in the famous 'Harry and Louise' commercials in the '90s that targeted President Bill Clinton's health care plan.

Harry Johnson, whose four-decade career saw him appear in everything from Battlestar Galactica to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Law & Order and more, has died. Johnson passed away in Los Angeles on Tuesday, Jan. 2 after a long illness, his wife, Christiane, confirmed to Deadline. He was 81.

Born on December 27, 1942 in Plainfield, New Jersey, Johnson began his career in 1978 with an appearance as a First Warrior in the pilot episode of Battlestar Galactica. Throughout the early years of his career in the '70s and '80s, the actor was often credited as Chip Johnson. Following his role on the hit sci-fi series, Johnson went on to guest star in a number of other beloved series, including M*A*S*H, Quincy M.E., The Incredible Hulk, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. He played Dr. Hinterman in an episode of the sitcom Nurses, which aired on NBC between September 1991 and May 1994, with his other credits including Cold Case, Heartland, Days of Our Lives, Judging Amy, and The Guardian, among others, per his IMDb profile. His last on-screen role came in an episode of Heartland in 2007.

On the big screen, Johnson appeared in films including Real Genius, Warlock, and The Spitfire Grill, as well as TV movies, the actor appearing opposite Batman alum Adam West in the 1981 sci-fi telepic Time Warp. Johnson's career also took him into ADR voice-acting. In addition to having voiced one of the primary police officers in Need for Speed: Carbon and Need for Speed: Most Wanted, he also ran the voice-over or looping groups on multiple Dick Wolf shows for more than two decades, including all the Law & Order and Chicago series.

In the '90s, Johnson became a familiar figure when he starred in the "Harry & Louise" TV and radio ads. The ads, which aired from 1993 through 1994, targeted President Bill Clinton's health care plan and were funded by the Health Insurance Association of America. Johnson and Louise Claire Clark reprised their roles for election-year commercials in 2000 and 2004, again during the 2008 Democratic National Convention, and also for a commercial ad supporting President Barack Obama's proposal in 2008. He also penned books under the pseudonym Harry Castle.

Johnson is survived by his wife of 15 years, Christiane, who told Deadline her husband "loved to sail and was renowned with colleagues for his wit and habit of bringing a brightness to sets," and his stepchildren Oliver and Penelope. A memorial service is pending.