Richard Roundtree, Unique ‘Shaft’ Star, Dies at 81

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By Calvin S. Nelson

Richard Roundtree, a Hollywood icon who performed John Shaft within the 1971 introduction to the “Shaft” movie franchise, has died after a battle with most cancers at age 81.

His supervisor, Patrick McMinn of McMinn Administration and Artists & Representatives Company, confirmed his passing in a press release on Oct. 24. He stated the actor had pancreatic most cancers and died Tuesday afternoon.

His household was at his facet, McMinn stated.

“Artists & Representatives Company mourns the lack of our good friend and consumer Richard Roundtree,” he stated.

Although it was not his explanation for demise, Roundtree was additionally a widely known breast most cancers survivor. He was identified in 1993, and all through his survival advocated for higher breast most cancers consciousness amongst males.

Roundtree was born in New Rochelle, New York, performed soccer for Southern Illinois College and did some modeling, in response to his IMDB biography.

He was drawn to theater and joined New York’s acclaimed Negro Ensemble Firm, then starred as Jack Johnson in “The Nice White Hope” off-Broadway earlier than the function of John Shaft offered itself, in response to the bio.

The 1971 movie, directed by the legendary Gordon Parks, received Oscars for Finest Music and Unique Tune for Isaac Hayes’ eponymous hit and different music he created for it. The function of John Shaft, the “hotter than Bond, cooler than Bullitt” personal detective, modified Roundtree’s life and the course of Hollywood by introducing him as an unapologetic protagonist and subterranean fighter of crime.

Actor Richard Roundtree in Toronto, on Sept. 13, 2022.Michael Loccisano / Getty Photos file

The movie “launched into mainstream cinema the African American motion hero; till then, action-hero roles had been reserved for white actors,” notes the College of Maryland, Baltimore County in a take a look at “Shaft” for its On-line Movie Pageant.

The crucial and business success of “Shaft” launched a short-lived and small wave of main studio movies targeted on sturdy Black protagonists in Hollywood. And it offered Roundtree an array of performing alternatives, his face generally seeming to be in all places onscreen.

His different credit embody tv hits comparable to “CHiPs,” “Magnum P.I.,” “Determined Housewives,” “Gray’s Anatomy,” and “Chicago Fireplace.” And he appeared in numerous Eighties and Nineties motion movies, together with “Unique Gangstas.”

In fact, Roundtree portrayed family members or older variations of himself in newer variations of “Shaft” starring Samuel L. Jackson.

Roundtree received a Peabody Award for his narration of “The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow,” a PBS documentary launched in 2002.

His metal jaw and turtleneck-covered muscle created an archetype for Black masculinity, a macho presentation that was paired with knowledge. He was a considering man’s brawler.

Cheo Coker, creator of the Netflix comedian motion hero collection “Luke Cage,” stated on X, the platform previously generally known as Twitter, “My hero. An enormous inspiration for Luke Cage.”

“His trailblazing profession modified the face of leisure across the globe and his enduring legacy shall be felt for generations to come back,” McMinn stated.

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