Rest in Peace: Richard Roundtree Died, He Was 81

Richard Roundtree

We’re at a loss for words. Richard Roundtree passed away this afternoon (October 24). He passed after a brief battle with pancreatic cancer. He passed with his family by his side. He was 81 years old.

Roundtree’s career spanned five decades, featuring diverse roles from his breakthrough in blaxploitation cinema to early appearances, such as in “As the World Turns” in 1956, to his recent work in eight episodes of “Cherish the Day” last year.

His most renowned role was as detective John Shaft in the 1971 action thriller, along with its sequels, “Shaft’s Big Score!” (1972) and “Shaft in Africa” (1973). He also starred in the short-lived 1973 “Shaft” TV series. Shaft was also the first film to feature Essence Magazine, helping its growth.

Richard Roundtree’s performance in the original “Shaft” film earned him a New Star of the Year Golden Globe nomination and recognition as the first Black action hero.

In later years, he reprised his iconic role in the 2000 film “Shaft,” directed by John Singleton and starring Samuel L. Jackson, as well as in the 2019 sequel directed by Tim Story.

Roundtree’s filmography includes appearances in movies like “Inchon” (1981), where he acted alongside Laurence Olivier and Ben Gazzara, “City Heat” (1984), co-starring Clint Eastwood and Burt Reynolds, as well as “Se7en,” “George of the Jungle,” “Body of Influence,” “Amityville: A New Generation,” and “What Men Want.” He was last seen in the Paul Weitz comedy “Moving On” in the previous year.

On the small screen, Roundtree portrayed Sam Bennett in the acclaimed 1977 miniseries “Roots.” He also had significant roles in series such as “Generations,” “413 Hope St.,” “Alias,” “Diary of a Single Mom,” “Buddies,” “Desperate Housewives,” “Soul Food,” “Being Mary Jane,” and “Family Reunion.” In his most recent television work, he was a main cast member in Season 2 of Ava DuVernay’s OWN series “Cherish the Day.”

Roundtree’s passing was confirmed by his agency, Artists & Representatives, and his longtime manager, Patrick McMinn. The agency released a statement expressing their condolences and recognizing his trailblazing career, which left an enduring legacy in the entertainment industry.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: