Shaft actor Richard Roundtree dies at 81

Pancreatic cancer claimed the life of Richard Roundtree, the actor who played the iconic role of Shaft, a black detective, in several movies. He was 81 years old.

Richard Roundtree was born in 1942 in New Rochelle, New York. He began his career as a model and then switched to acting. He rose to fame for his role as John Shaft in the 1971 film “Shaft”, directed by Gordon Parks. The film was a success and led to two sequels and a TV series, all featuring Roundtree as Shaft.

Roundtree broke new ground as one of the first black actors to play a leading role in a mainstream Hollywood film. He also helped pioneer the blaxploitation genre, which showcased black actors in action and crime films that tackled social issues and racial discrimination.

Roundtree kept acting in various films and TV shows throughout his career. He played Alex Haley’s uncle in the miniseries “Roots”, a newspaper editor in the soap opera “Generations”, and Samuel L. Jackson’s uncle in the 2000 remake of “Shaft”. He also starred in the 2019 sequel of “Shaft”, along with Jackson and Jessie Usher.

Roundtree earned the admiration and respect of many fans and fellow actors. They complimented his charisma, style, and talent. He also survived breast cancer, which he disclosed in 1993. He became a spokesperson for raising awareness and funding for the disease.

Richard Roundtree died on Tuesday, October 24, 2023, with his family by his side. His manager confirmed his death and said that his work and career marked a turning point for African-American leading men in film.

Many celebrities paid homage to Roundtree on social media. They shared their sadness and gratitude for his legacy and influence. They called him a legend, an icon, and a cool man.

Richard Roundtree leaves behind three children and five grandchildren. Many people who loved him and his work will miss him.