The Blacklist and Twin Peaks Actor Clark Middleton Dies at 63 After Contracting West Nile Virus
West Nile Virus is a mosquito-borne disease with no vaccine or treatment
Clark Middleton, who appeared on The Blacklist and Showtime's Twin Peaks revival, has died. He was 63.
The actor died in his Los Angeles home on Sunday as a result of the West Nile Virus, according to his wife Elissa.
"With heavy hearts we announce the passing of a life eminently worthy of celebration: Clark Tinsley Middleton, 63 – beloved actor, writer, director, teacher, hero, husband, beacon, friend," she said in a statement provided to PEOPLE. "Clark transitioned on October 4th as a result of West Nile Virus, for which there is no known cure. Clark was a beautiful soul who spent a lifetime defying limits and advocating for people with disabilities."
West Nile Virus is a mosquito-borne disease with no vaccine or treatment. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most people infected with West Nile Virus do not feel sick, though one in five people who contract the disease develop symptoms and about one in 150 people develop a serious, sometimes fatal, illness.
A gifted character actor, Middleton had recurring roles on Law & Order, Twin Peaks, The Path and The Blacklist, on which he played DMV employee Glen Carter in 13 episodes.
"I’m heartbroken. Besides being a truly unique and gifted actor, Clark was simply an incredible guy in every way. He was a whip-smart film nut. He loved his work with a passion. And he was insanely generous of spirit," The Blacklist creator Jon Bokenkamp said in a statement. "I was fortunate enough to work with Clark over the past several years, and that relationship developed into a wonderful friendship that I'll always cherish. I know his entire family at The Blacklist is devastated by this news. Clark was one of the good ones, and we lost him way too soon."
Middleton's other television credits include Fringe, Gotham, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and American Gods.
On film, Middleton appeared in notable titles such as Serendipity, Kill Bill Vol. 2, Sin City, Snowpiercer and Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance).
"I am shocked to learn of Clark’s sudden passing, an actor who I worked with on Snowpiercer, who over many films gave such exceptional and unique performances," director Bong Joon Ho said in a statement provided to PEOPLE. "Just a few months ago, I had a drink with him after a screening of Snowpiercer, a night I won’t forget. He was a splendid performer and a beautiful human being. I hope he’s smiling from heaven, that big smile I saw so often."
Behind the camera, Middleton wrote and produced short films Idee Fixe and My Milonga, which he also directed.
Offscreen, Middleton — who was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis when he was 4 — was a fierce advocate for those with the condition and acted as a spokesperson for the Arthritis Foundation.
He also founded The Young Mels, a support network named after his father dedicated to children living with juvenile arthritis.
“My dad refused to let me quit,” Middleton said in a 2017 blog post for the Arthritis Foundation. “He constantly instilled in me that I could define my own reality by how I thought about myself and how I carried myself. He wouldn’t allow me to think of myself as a victim. He taught me a lot about determination and courage.”
"He knew how important it was for me to be independent, and not to expect any handouts just because I had a disability. I had to earn it," he continued. "The consequence is a wonderful life."
Middleton is survived by his wife, his brother and his mother.
The Arthritis Foundation has set up a memorial fund in his honor.