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RIP! Popular Actor Dies Of Cancer At 81



Popular American actor, Richard Roundtree  “the first Black action hero” for his starring role in the iconic 1971 hit “Shaft,” died on Tuesday at 81.

Hollywood publication Deadline said that the actor, known for opening doors for other Black artists in the industry, died with his family at his bedside, “after a brief battle with pancreatic cancer.”

Recall that “Shaft,” in which Roundtree played the eponymous private eye John Shaft, sparked a series of sequels and a TV spinoff.

Five decades later, Roundtree was still acting and appearing in the television romance drama, “Cherish the Day”, and film comedy “Moving On” just last year.

Richard’s work and career served as a turning point for African American leading men in film,” his manager Patrick McMinn said in a statement to Variety. “The impact he had on the industry cannot be overstated.”

RIP! Popular Actor Dies Of Cancer At 81


Roundtree’s major debut, “Shaft” was hailed as a founding classic in the “Blaxploitation” genre the 1970s were known for which boosters say tackled race relations while critics blast the style for trafficking in stereotypes.

Either way, the genre was critical to pushing Hollywood to cast Black Americans in starring roles finally.

I used to look at it as a double-edged sword. But I’ve had so many people from all over the country, and all over the world actually — come up and say what that film meant to them back in ’71,” Roundtree told broadcaster NPR in 2019.

It’s heavy.”

“The other side of it is I got typecast for quite some time, and then I’ve gone out of my way to establish a different side of my acting,” he said.

He was largely successful in that endeavor, with “his trailblazing career (changing) the face of entertainment around the globe,” his agency told Deadline.

“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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