Shaft actor Richard Roundtree dead at 81

Richard Roundtree on the red carpet
Actor Richard Roundtree passed away at age 81. Pic credit: © Perniac/Admedia

Lead Shaft actor Richard Roundtree passed away at 81 after a battle with cancer.

Roundtree was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer two months ago.

The actor passed away on Monday, surrounded by his family when he died at his home in Los Angeles.

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Roundtree is best known for his role as detective John Shaft in the original Shaft movie franchise, including the 1971 original film, the 1972 sequel Shaft’s Big Score!, and the 1973 Shaft in Africa.

He was known as the first Black action hero in Hollywood and left quite a legacy from his role in Shaft.

The iconic role even saw him nominated for New Star of the Year at the Golden Globe Awards.

Shaft (1971) - Where You Going? Scene (1/9) | Movieclips

Richard Roundtree’s acting legacy

Roundtree returned for his role as John Shaft alongside Samuel L Jackson in the 2000 remake, but he didn’t only work on Shaft.

One of his other famous roles was the Roots miniseries, where he played Sam Bennett. Most recently, Roundtree played Gabrielle Union’s father in the drama series Being Mary Jane.

As TMZ notes, the last time they saw the actor was in 2018 when he discussed filming Shaft reboots with Samuel L Jackson.

Although he seemed to live a relatively private life, Roundtree definitely left quite a legacy behind.

Tributes pour in for Richard Roundtree

Gabrielle Union took to Twitter to share her respects for her former co-star, writing, “Working with Richard Roundtree was a dream. Getting to hang with him & our Being Mary Jane family was always a good a** time with the best stories & laughs. He was ALWAYS the coolest man in the room with the BEST vibes & ppl would literally run over to come see him. He was simply the best & we all loved him. #RIPRichardRoundtree.”

Others recognized him from his other roles, with one paying tribute to him and his role as Daniel Reubens.

Another user referred to him as “the man, the myth, the legend,” and we couldn’t agree with that statement more.

Matt Knudson shared a touching memory with Roundtree on Twitter, writing, “Rest in Power Richard Roundtree. Incredible talent. International superstar. Class act all the way. One day, Richard and I played golf as a twosome. We’d never met, but it was just the two of us playing and laughing for hours. What a man, what a memory.”

As tributes continue to come in, it’s clear that Richard Roundtree was an inspiration and hero to many.

Rest in peace, Richard Roundtree.

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