Actor Bernie Casey died in Los Angeles at the age of 78, following a brief illness, his spokesman reports.
He broke into showbusiness by appearing in blaxploitation films, and went on to play such iconic characters as schoolteacher Mr Ryan in 1989’s Bill And Ted’s Excellent Adventure and Commander Harris in 1992 Steven Seagal vehicle Under Siege.
He even played a version of himself in Keenen Ivory Wayans’ classic 1988 blaxploitation spoof I’m Gonna Git You Sucka.
He is best known for his turn in 1984’s Revenge Of The Nerds, where he played U.N. Jefferson, the leader of the black Lambda Lambda Lambda fraternity who decided to put racial politics aside and take the movie’s collection of misfits under his wing.
Long before he was a showbusiness icon, Bernie was a nationally recognised athlete.