Richard Roundtree ‘Shaft’ Star Dead at 81 |

Pour one out for a legend.

via: Deadline

Richard Roundtree, who broke ground with his signature role in the Shaft movie franchise, passed away this afternoon, Oct. 24, after a brief battle with pancreatic cancer with his family at his bedside. He was 81.

Roundtree, who was born in 1942 in New Rochelle, NY, starred in blaxploitation films in the early 1970s, including Shaft. He is best known for playing detective John Shaft in the 1971 action thriller and its sequels, Shaft’s Big Score! (1972) and Shaft in Africa (1973) as well as the short-lived 1973 Shaft TV series.

For his performance in the original film, Roundtree was nominated for a New Star of the Year Golden Globe and hailed as the first Black action hero.

Decades later, Roundtree reprised his role in the 2000 John Singleton movie starring Samuel L. Jackson and the 2019 Tim Story-directed sequel.

Roundtree’s film credits also include the 1981 Inchon, in which he appeared opposite Laurence Olivier and Ben Gazzara, the 1984 City Heat opposite Clint Eastwood and Burt Reynolds as well as Se7en and George of the Jungle. He was last seen last year in the Paul Weitz comedy Moving On.

On television, Roundtree most notably played slave Sam Bennett in the iconic 1977 television series Roots and Dr. Daniel Reubens on Generations from 1989 to 1991.

Roundtree’s death was confirmed to Deadline by his agency, Artists & Representatives, and his longtime manager, Patrick McMinn.

“Artists & Representatives Agency mourns the loss of our friend and client Richard Roundtree,” the agency said in a statement. “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.”


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