He was best known for his roles as Norman Wilson in The Wire, Martin Querns in Oz, Dr. Franklin Storm in the 2015 reboot of Fantastic Four, and Freddy Hayes in House of Cards, the latter earning him three consecutive Emmy Award nominations for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series, including a win in 2015.
Cathey died at his home in New York after battling cancer, reports said.
The actor won an Emmy for his role as rib-shack owner Freddy Hayes in the Netflix political thriller House of Cards.
Actor Samuel L Jackson described Cathey as a “brilliant actor, humourist and friend”.
Beau Willimon, who created the US version of House of Cards, said Cathey was “one of a kind, brimming with life force, generosity, humour, gravitas and a fountain of talent.
“Loved by everyone lucky enough to know him and work with him. He will be greatly missed. Rest In Peace, Reg,” he added.
The character Freddy Hayes ran a back-street BBQ joint beloved by machiavellian politician and future US President Frank Underwood, played by Kevin Spacey.
In a statement, Netflix said it was “heartbroken” by the actor’s death.
“Reg was the kindest man, the most giving actor, a true gentlemen. Our sympathy goes to his family,” it said.
Fans of The Wire knew Cathey as the political operative Norman Wilson.
David Simon, the show’s creator who first reported Cathey’s death, described him as “a fine, masterful actor” and “one of the most delightful human beings”.