Benjamin Vereen Jr., the son of Tony-winning actor Ben Vereen, has died at the age of 55.
Vereen confirmed his son’s death in a statement on Tuesday, saying: “I am sorry to announce my son Benjamin A Vereen Jr., affectionately known as Benji passed away.”
“Benji was a dancer and a choreographer with an extraordinary artistic talent and we will hold him in our hearts forever,” he continued. “Thank you to the public for loving my son.”
Vereen is best known for his performance as The Leading Player as part of the original cast of the Broadway musical Pippin. The role won him the 1973 Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical.
He has also appeared in other Broadway shows including Wicked as the Wizard of Oz, Chicago and Fosse. On television, Vereen has starred in episodes of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Star Trek: The Next Generation, The Nanny and How I Met Your Mother.
According to NY1, Benjamin Jr. had been missing since July 27. Vereen learned of his death on August 8.
Vereen Jr.’s death isn’t the first time tragedy has struck the Vereen family.
In 1987, Vereen’s daughter Naja was killed in a car accident at 16 years old. Naja was driving with her mother, Nancy, on a New Jersey highway when a tractor-trailer crashed into them.
Nancy was uninjured.
“Basically, it was an act of God that she wasn’t injured,” said state police spokeswoman Fran Wise, according to the AP.
She and Vereen ultimately divorced in 2012.
Benjamin Jr. is survived by three sons and one daughter.
“We would appreciate allowing our family to mourn this privately,” Vereen said in his statement.
SOURCE: PEOPLE – Morgan Smith