Richard Roundtree, the famous actor who played the lead role in the groundbreaking “Shaft” movies, has passed away at the age of 81.
He died after a short battle with pancreatic cancer, as confirmed by his long-time manager, Patrick McMinn.
Roundtree’s family was with him during his final moments.
Roundtree’s acting career lasted for an impressive five decades, but it was his portrayal of Detective John Shaft in the action-packed 1971 movie that made him the first Black action hero.
He continued to star in other “Shaft” movies and even a brief TV series in 1973.
In 2000, he returned to the character in the movie “Shaft” alongside Samuel L. Jackson and again in the 2019 sequel.
Apart from “Shaft,” Roundtree had a remarkable career in various films, including roles in “Inchon” in 1981, where he acted alongside famous actors like Laurence Olivier and Ben Gazzara.
He also appeared in “City Heat” in 1984, sharing the screen with Clint Eastwood and Burt Reynolds, and in movies like “Se7en,” “George of the Jungle,” “Body of Influence,” “Amityville: A New Generation,” and “What Men Want.”
His final big-screen appearance was in the comedy “Moving On” in 2022.
On the small screen, Roundtree was part of significant projects, such as the 1977 miniseries “Roots,” where he played the role of Sam Bennett, a slave.
He also had roles in TV series like “Generations,” “413 Hope St.,” “Alias,” “Diary of a Single Mom,” “Buddies,” “Desperate Housewives,” “Soul Food,” “Being Mary Jane,” and “Family Reunion.”
In 2022, he was part of season 2 of Ava DuVernay’s OWN series, “Cherish the Day.”
Roundtree’s talent agency, Artists & Representatives Agency, expressed their thoughts on his remarkable acting career, emphasizing that he changed the world of entertainment and that his legacy will be celebrated for generations to come.
They extended their condolences to his family and loved ones during this challenging time.
Gabrielle Union, his co-star from “Being Mary Jane,” also shared her sentiments on social media, saying, “Working with Richard Roundtree was a dream. …
He was ALWAYS the coolest man in the room with the BEST vibes & ppl would literally run over to come see him.
He was simply the best & we all loved him.”