‘Shaft’ Star Richard Roundtree Passes Away At 81: A Hollywood Icon Remembered


The entertainment industry is mourning the loss of an iconic figure today as Richard Roundtree, the beloved actor known for his portrayal of detective John Shaft in the “Shaft” movie franchise, has passed away at the age of 81. Richard’s manager Patrick McMinn confirmed that the actor lost his battle with pancreatic cancer, with his family by his side at his home in Los Angeles.

Key Takeaway

Richard Roundtree, known for his role as John Shaft in the “Shaft” franchise, has passed away at the age of 81. His portrayal of the iconic character made him the first Black action hero in Hollywood and earned him international recognition. Richard’s versatility as an actor extended beyond “Shaft,” with notable roles in “Roots” and “Being Mary Jane.” His legacy will be remembered for generations to come.

A Pioneering Black Action Hero

Richard Roundtree will forever be remembered as a trailblazer in Hollywood, as he became the first Black action hero to grace the silver screen. His breakout role in the original 1971 film “Shaft” propelled him to international fame, even earning him a nomination for New Star of the Year at the Golden Globe Awards. The success of the film led to two sequels, “Shaft’s Big Score!” and “Shaft In Africa,” solidifying Richard’s place in cinematic history.

Legacy of ‘Shaft’ Continues

Richard Roundtree’s impact on the “Shaft” franchise extended beyond the original trilogy. In 2000, he reprised his iconic role as John Shaft in a remake alongside Samuel L. Jackson, who portrayed Shaft’s nephew. Richard also appeared in the 2019 version, cementing his status as the face of the popular film series. Additionally, he starred in the 1973 “Shaft” TV series, further solidifying his place in pop culture.

A Versatile Actor

While Richard Roundtree was most famous for his portrayal of Shaft, he showcased his versatility as an actor throughout his career. He notably played Sam Bennett in the renowned “Roots” miniseries, leaving a lasting impact on audiences worldwide. In recent years, he captivated viewers with his role as Gabrielle Union’s father in the drama series “Being Mary Jane.”

A Lasting Impression

The news of Richard Roundtree’s passing has left a profound impact on the entertainment industry. Gabrielle Union, who had the privilege of working alongside him, described him as “the coolest man in the room with the BEST vibes.” His infectious charisma and talent left a lasting impression on everyone he encountered, and he will be sorely missed.