Richard Roundtree, the iconic actor who brought the legendary character John Shaft to life, has sadly passed away after a courageous battle with pancreatic cancer. The news of his demise was confirmed by his manager, Patrick McMinn, who revealed that Richard was diagnosed with the illness just two months ago. Surrounded by his loved ones, Richard peacefully departed from this world at his residence in Los Angeles.
Renowned for his groundbreaking portrayal of detective John Shaft in the original ‘Shaft’ movie franchise, Richard Roundtree cemented his status as the first Black action hero in Hollywood. The series comprised the timeless classics: the 1971 original film “Shaft,” the 1972 sequel “Shaft’s Big Score!,” and the 1973 trilogy “Shaft In Africa.”
His exceptional performance in “Shaft” earned him a Golden Globe nomination for New Star of the Year, solidifying his place in cinematic history. Richard also graced the small screen as the face of the ‘Shaft’ franchise through the 1973 ‘Shaft’ TV series.
In 2000, when ‘Shaft’ received a modern remake, Richard Roundtree reprised his iconic role alongside Samuel L. Jackson, who portrayed Shaft’s nephew. He later reprised the character in the 2019 version, showcasing his enduring influence on the franchise.
Richard Roundtree’s talent extended beyond ‘Shaft.’ He left an indelible mark on the acclaimed “Roots” miniseries, portraying the character of Sam Bennett. More recently, he captivated audiences as Gabrielle Union’s father in the beloved drama series “Being Mary Jane.”
Gabrielle Union, who had the privilege of working with Richard, expressed her admiration, stating that collaborating with him was a dream come true. She fondly recalls their time together, filled with laughter, remarkable anecdotes, and an infectious energy that made Richard the epitome of coolness. People were drawn to him, eagerly flocking to be in his presence, as he effortlessly commanded every room he entered.
Our last encounter with Richard Roundtree was in 2018, during an interview where he enthralled us with his experiences filming the ‘Shaft’ reboots alongside Samuel L. Jackson.
Richard Roundtree’s passing at the age of 81 leaves a void in the entertainment industry. His legacy as a trailblazer, a symbol of coolness, and an inspiration to generations will forever be remembered.
Rest in peace, Richard.