‘SHAFT’ Superstar Richard Roundtree Passes Away at 81

'SHAFT' Superstar Richard Roundtree Passes Away at 81

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.

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