Actor Ron Silver, best known for his performance on the US TV show The West Wing, has died of cancer.

The Emmy-nominated actor is reported to have died peacefully in his sleep with his family around him early on Sunday morning. He was 62 years old.

Robin Bronk, executive director of the Creative Coalition, which Silver helped found, said the actor died in New York and had been fighting oesophageal cancer for two years.

The Creative Coalition is an art-oriented political group founded in 1989 by Silver, fellow actors Alec Baldwin and Susan Sarandon, and others.

Silver won Broadway's Tony Award in 1988 for his performance in David Mamet's drama Speed the Plow. He is best known, however, for his portrayal of White House strategist Bruno Gianelli on The West Wing.

He famously switched his political allegiance following the September 11th terrorist attacks, switching from being a lifelong liberal activist to an outspoken supporter of Republican president George W Bush.

Silver even appeared as a speaker at the 2004 Republican National Convention, and on occasion refereed to himself as a "9/11 Republican".

16/03/2009 12:15:45