Actor René Auberjonois, best known for his roles in the television shows Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Benson, has died aged 79.

The prolific actor's death was announced in a statement on his website which said: "We are heartbroken to confirm that Rene passed away today."

He died at his home in Los Angeles on Sunday (December 9) of metastatic lung cancer.

Auberjonois played the character Odo, the shape-shifting head of security, on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, a popular spinoff series spawned by the legendary sci-fi show. 

He also was known for his portrayal of Clayton Endicott III, the chief of staff to a governor on the long-running US sitcom Benson in the 1980s.

Other notable roles include his appearance as Father Mulcahy in Robert Altman's 1970 film MASH; a role on the TV drama Boston Legal; and a host of voice roles in animated films, including his performance as Chef Louis in Disney's The Little Mermaid.

He is survived by his wife Judith and two children, Tessa and Remy-Luc.