The film industry is mourning the loss of a trailblazer with the passing of Richard Roundtree, an American actor best known for his role as private detective John Shaft in the 1971 film “Shaft”. Roundtree, who was widely recognized as the first black action hero, passed away on October 24, 2023, at the age of 81.
Who was Richard Roundtree?
Richard Roundtree was an influential figure in the world of cinema, breaking barriers as the first black action hero. He gained fame and recognition for his portrayal of private detective John Shaft in the film “Shaft” and its four sequels released between 1972 and 2019. His performance in the original film earned him a nomination for the Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year – Actor in 1972.
Richard Roundtree Career
Roundtree’s career began around 1963 when he was scouted by Eunice W. Johnson to model in the Ebony Fashion Fair. His modeling success led him to endorse products such as Duke hair grease and Salem cigarettes. His acting career took off when he joined the Negro Ensemble Company in 1967, landing his first role as boxing legend Jack Johnson in the company’s production of “The Great White Hope”. He also acted in the Off-Off-Broadway production of J. E. Franklin’s play “Mau Mau Room”.
How did Richard Roundtree die?
Richard Roundtree passed away at his Los Angeles home due to pancreatic cancer. His death came after a long and brave battle with health challenges, as he had previously been diagnosed with breast cancer in 1993 and underwent a double mastectomy and chemotherapy.
Jessie T. Usher
the image from the first time I met Mr. Roundtree will forever be imprinted in my memory… he was standing across the way, conveniently propped against the base of a light post as the cloud of smoke from his cigar wafted through the air like a literal depiction of his aura; illuminated by the only light source in the lot, which was directly above him hahaha – absolutely legendary. He taught me many things, but above all else, humility and thankfulness . He was and always will be the m*therf*cking man ✊🏾 Rest In Peace to the OG Richard Roundtree
What was the Cause of Richard Roundtree Death?
The cause of Roundtree’s death was pancreatic cancer, a disease that he battled privately in his final years. This came after his earlier fight with breast cancer, making his journey one marked by resilience and strength.
Holly Robinson Peete
My heart hurts to hear this beautiful legendary actor and pioneer has passed. He was the best. Such a wonderful man. Blessed to have known him and worked with him on 21 Jump Street AND Hangin With Mr. Cooper. I remember feeling so starstruck whenever I was near him. He never acted like an icon but I gave him his flowers every chance I got 💐💐💐💐He was so versatile- Drama, Comedy- all of it. Every time I saw him he would say “Good Golly Miss Holly!” Loved thatOh man, will he be missed Rest In Peace, Richard Roundtree 💔💔😢😢😢🙏🏾🙏🏾🙏🏾 #Shaft
Richard Roundtree Obituary
We mourn the loss of Richard Roundtree, a man who broke barriers and paved the way for black actors in action roles. His portrayal of John Shaft remains iconic, continuing to inspire generations of actors. Roundtree’s legacy extends beyond the screen, as he also bravely shared his battle with breast cancer, shedding light on a disease that affects both men and women. We extend our deepest condolences to his family, friends, and all those who admired his work.
I have no words for this loss 💔 Richard, you have made such a lasting impact on my life. I am forever grateful for your warm energy, your light, your heart, and your incredible wisdom 🕊️ I will miss you and our times together in our trailers – you teaching me the right way to take down some whiskey. I love you.Thank you for blessing this world with your gifts 🙏🏿 Rest in Power #RichardRoundtree
Richard Roundtree’s passing marks the end of an era. He was not just an actor; he was a trailblazer, a role model, and a symbol of resilience. His contributions to the film industry and his courage in the face of adversity will forever be remembered. As we bid him farewell, we celebrate his life and the enduring impact he made on cinema and society.