German actor Goetz George, much beloved for his role as hard-nosed but good-hearted inspector in the country's iconic "Tatort" TV crime series, has died. He was 77.

The actor died June 19 after a short illness, but his agent didn't immediately release further information, the dpa news agency reported.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Monday called him "one of the greatest German actors ... We will miss him."

George was especially popular for his role as tough working-class inspector Horst Schimanski from the country's industrial Ruhr Valley region, which he played 48 times in a time period of 32 years.

He also starred in many movies, including his role as the Nazis' death camp doctor Joseph Mengele in "Nichts als die Wahrheit."