I am a huge fan of the In the Heat of the Night TV series. I have been an officer for 31 years and a police chief for 13. This show was so close to real police life. I know that Carroll O'Connor, who played Chief Gillespie, and his son, who played Lt. Jamison, are dead. What happened to the cast members who played Capt. Bubba Skinner, Detective Virgil Tibbs and his wife, Althea, Officer Williams and Sgt. Sweet?
—Chief Mike Halstead, Surf City, N.C.
Here's an update on cast members of the 1988-1995 TV series, which airs daily on WGN.
Alan Autry (no relation to cowboy star/businessman Gene Autry), 59, who played Capt. Skinner, served as mayor of Fresno, Calif., from 2001 through 2008, and was host of a radio news-talk show in that city for several years. He was a cast member of the sitcom Grace Under Fire from 1995-1996. The former NFL quarterback is CEO of Dirt Road Productions.
David Hart, 57, who played Office Parker Williams, has appeared in TV commercials, been a guest on TV series and co-starred with Autry in the 2002 Western The Legend of Jake Kincaid, which has been re-edited and released on DVD as Forgiven.
Geoffrey Thorne, who played Sgt. Wilson Sweet, has been writing professionally since 2001 in such media as books, TV, film, comics and stage. His TV writing credits include Leverage, Law & Order: Criminal Intent and Ben 10: Ultimate Alien.
Anne-Marie Johnson, 51, who played Althea Gibbs, was a cast member of the shows In Living Color, Melrose Place, JAG, That's So Raven and House of Payne and has been a guest on numerous TV series. She also served several terms as first national vice president of the Screen Actors Guild over the past decade.
Carroll O'Connor died in 2001 at 76 from a heart attack brought on by complications from diabetes. His son, Hugh O'Connor, committed suicide in 1995 at age 32.
Howard E. Rollins Jr., who played Detective Virgil Tibbs, died of complications from lymphoma in 1996 at 46.