Richard Roundtree, best known for playing Detective John Shaft in the action thriller ‘Shaft,’ has passed away at the age of 81.
The heartbreaking news was confirmed by his manager Patrick McMinn. The actor died following a brief battle with pancreatic cancer.
His ‘Being Mary Jane’ co-star, Gabrielle Union, paid heartfelt tribute to the actor and wrote that working with him was ‘a dream.’
Taking to X, Union said: “He was ALWAYS the coolest man in the room with the best vibes (and people) would literally run over to come see him. We all loved him.”
Roundtree managed to beat breast cancer following his diagnosis in 1993. While he kept his battle private, he decided to become an advocate for raising awareness of the disease.
In a 2007 interview with ABC News, he said: “Not talking about my cancer was really tough. And now that I do talk about it all the time, it’s really become a backhanded blessing. I was getting on a plane recently, and a flight attendant ran up to me and said, ‘You saved my husband’s life.’”
Roundtree was born in New Rochelle, New York in 1942. He made his silver-screen debut after starring in Shaft, which rocked the entertainment world like an earthquake.
His performance earned him a Golden Globe nomination for most promising male newcomer in 1972.
He then went on and portrayed John Shaft in 1972’s Shaft Big Score!, 1973’s ‘Shaft in Africa,’ and ‘Shaft’ TV show.
Roundtree also starred in the historical drama ‘Roots’ opposite John Amos, Robert Reed, and LeVar Burton.
He then made guest appearances on TV shows such as ‘Beverly Hill, 90210,’ ‘Magnum, P.I.,’ ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,’ and ‘The Love Boat.’
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