Roger Rees, the Tony Award-winning actor who appeared in The West Wing and Cheers, has died at 71.

Rees died at his home in New York city on Friday after a brief illness, his agent Rick Miramontez told AFP.

Born in Wales in 1944, Rees’s performing career began on the stage, where he went on to win a 1982 best actor Tony for his role in the theatrical adaptation of Charles Dickens’s The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby.

Known to many for The West Wing, where he played the high-strung British ambassador, Rees also played a snooty British businessman on the hit 1980s comedy series Cheers.

Rees garnered widespread recognition for his role as Sheriff of Rottingham in the 1993 Mel Brooks comedy, Robin Hood: Men in Tights.

More recent credits include roles in US television shows Elementary and The Good Wife.

Members of the acting community and fans paid tribute to Rees on social media.

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“RIP #RogerRees – a lovely, generous & kind man & an heroic & passionate actor. We all fell in love with him in #NicholasNickleby so sad,” the choreographer Matthew Bourne wrote on Twitter.

Actor and director Samuel West said he “woke to the sad news of Roger Rees’s death” before posting pictures of the actor in high-profile stage roles.

The musician Rick Wakeman added: “Very sad to learn of the passing of Roger Rees. I saw him last year at a Water Rats Lodge. A truly lovely man and very talented too.”

Rees lived in New York with his husband, playwright Rick Elice.

AAP

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