UPDATED with Lisa Kudrow’s remembrance: Playwright, director, teacher and actor Robert Michael Morris, best known for playing the lovable Mickey Dean on HBO’s The Comeback, died Tuesday. He was 77. The cause of death was not immediately known.

Morris began his acting career as a member of the Catholic University Repertory Company before shifting his focus to academics. After many years as a theater teacher in high schools and colleges across the U.S., he moved back to New York City where he worked in commercials and off-Broadway, most notably in the NY production of Cary Churchill Cloud Nine directed by Tommy Tune.

He was again drawn back to teaching when he received a call from Michael Patrick King (one of his former college students) to audition for the role in 2005’s The Comeback, a part King and Lisa Kudrow wrote with him in mind. After his success on the first season of the HBO comedy series, he appeared in numerous other television shows including Will & Grace, Arrested Development, How I Met Your Mother and 2 Broke Girls. When The Comeback was revived by HBO in 2014, he reprised his signature role co-starring opposite Kudrow as Valerie Cherish’s hairdresser and “guard dog.”

King said of Morris’ passing: “Robert Michael Morris was an inspiration to write for and to be around. His creativity was only matched by the joy and gratefulness he felt for each day he got to live his life as an artist.”

Kudrow also paid tribute to Morris on Twitter:

Morris most recently guest-starred as Stan Hoister on The Middle.