Hollywood Icon Richard Roundtree, Famed as ‘Shaft,’ Passes Away at 81
Los Angeles, CA — The world of entertainment mourns the loss of Richard Roundtree, the iconic actor best known for his groundbreaking role as John Shaft in the 1971 film “Shaft” and its subsequent sequels. The 81-year-old actor breathed his last on Tuesday, succumbing to a brief battle with pancreatic cancer, surrounded by his loving family, as reported by Deadline, our sister publication.
The Artist & Representatives Agency, representing Roundtree, expressed their grief in a heartfelt statement, saying, “We mourn the loss of our friend and client, Richard Roundtree. His trailblazing career changed the face of entertainment around the globe, and his enduring legacy will be felt for generations to come. Our hearts are with his family and loved ones during this difficult time.”
Richard Roundtree’s remarkable journey in the world of entertainment began with a background in stage acting and modeling. However, it was his portrayal of the suave New York private investigator, John Shaft, that catapulted him to stardom. “Shaft” not only marked a pivotal moment in the history of blaxploitation cinema but also transformed Roundtree into one of Hollywood’s first Black action heroes. His charismatic depiction of Shaft led to two thrilling sequels: “Shaft’s Big Score” in 1972 and “Shaft in Africa” in 1973. He also made a cameo appearance in the 2000 remake starring Samuel L. Jackson and its 2019 sequel.
In addition to his remarkable cinematic achievements, Roundtree left an indelible mark on the small screen. Notably, he portrayed the character of Sam Bennett in the 1977 miniseries “Roots,” which was a monumental success. His television credits also include appearances on popular shows such as “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” “Alias,” “Desperate Housewives,” and “Heroes.” Roundtree was a series regular on the Fox drama “413 Hope St.”
In recent years, Richard Roundtree continued to grace television screens, playing pivotal roles like Gabrielle Union’s father in “Being Mary Jane” and Boden’s father in “Chicago Fire.” His most recent television credits included appearances in OWN’s “Cherish the Day” and Netflix’s “Family Reunion.”
As the world says goodbye to a trailblazing actor and an entertainment legend, Richard Roundtree’s indomitable spirit and enduring contributions to film and television will forever be remembered.
— New York Post (@nypost) October 25, 2023