Richard Roundtree, who was known as the first Black action hero, has passed away at the age of 81.
According to The Associated Press, Roundtree’s longtime manager, Patrick McMinn, confirmed that the legendary actor died in his Los Angeles home on Tuesday (Oct. 24) after battling pancreatic cancer. “Richard’s work and career served as a turning point for African American leading men,” McMinn said. “The impact he had on the industry cannot be overstated.”
In 1993, Roundtree was diagnosed with breast cancer. He underwent a double mastectomy and beat the disease. Initially, he was quiet about his survival, but later became an advocate for raising awareness about cancer when he realized his story could save lives. “Not talking about my cancer was really tough,” Roundtree said during his 2007 interview with ABC News. “And now that I do talk about it all the time, it’s really become a backhanded blessing. I was getting on a plane recently, and a flight attendant ran up to me and said, ‘You saved my husband’s life.'”
Roundtree is best known for his lead role as Detective John Shaft in the Shaft movie franchise, including the 1971 original film, Shaft, the 1972 sequel, Shaft’s Big Score!, and the 1973 trilogy, Shaft In Africa. He also starred in “Roots” and “Being Mary Jane” alongside Gabrielle Union, who played his daughter in the show. The actress took to Twitter to mourn his death, writing that working with Roundtree was a dream. “Getting to hang with him [and] our ‘Being Mary Jane’ family was always a good a** time, with the best stories [and] laughs. He was ALWAYS the coolest man in the room with the BEST vibes [and people] would literally run over to come see him. He was simply the best [and] we all loved him. #RIPRichardRoundtree,” Union tweeted. Check out the post here.
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