Shaft’ Star Richard Roundtree Dead at 81

Sad news has emerged in Hollywood as it has been announced that iconic actor Richard Roundtree, best known for his role in the original “Shaft” movie franchise, has passed away at the age of 81 following a battle with pancreatic cancer. Richard Roundtree was not only a trailblazer in the industry, being regarded as the first Black action hero in Hollywood, but he also left a lasting impact on audiences with his breakthrough performance as detective John Shaft. From his iconic role in “Shaft” to his recent work in “Being Mary Jane,” Richard Roundtree’s talent and charisma will be sorely missed by fans and colleagues alike.

Shaft Star Richard Roundtree Dead at 81

Richard Roundtree’s Death

Richard Roundtree, best known for his role as detective John Shaft in the iconic “Shaft” film franchise, has passed away at the age of 81. The actor died after a battle with pancreatic cancer, which he was diagnosed with two months prior to his passing. Roundtree’s family was by his side at his home in Los Angeles when he passed. His manager, Patrick McMinn, confirmed the news of his death.

Family by His Side

During his final moments, Roundtree had the comfort of his loved ones by his side. His family provided support and care for him as he battled his illness. It is heartwarming to know that he was surrounded by his loved ones during this difficult time.

Roundtree’s Career and Legacy

Role in ‘Shaft’

Roundtree’s portrayal of detective John Shaft in the original “Shaft” movie franchise solidified his place in Hollywood history. The 1971 film, “Shaft,” was a groundbreaking success, and Roundtree’s performance as the suave and charismatic detective made him a household name.

First Black Action Hero

Roundtree’s breakthrough performance in “Shaft” also marked him as the first Black action hero in Hollywood. His role paved the way for future Black actors to take on leading roles in action films and broke down barriers in the industry.

Other Notable Roles

Aside from his iconic role in the “Shaft” franchise, Roundtree had a successful career in both film and television. He appeared in the 1973 “Shaft” TV series and also had notable roles in projects such as the “Roots” miniseries, where he played the character Sam Bennett. More recently, he portrayed Gabrielle Union’s father in the drama series “Being Mary Jane.”

Reprising the Role of Shaft

2000 Remake

In 2000, “Shaft” was remade with Samuel L. Jackson taking on the role of detective John Shaft. Roundtree had the opportunity to reprise his role as John Shaft in the remake, adding a sense of continuity to the film series. His participation in the remake was a testament to the lasting impact of his original portrayal.

2019 Version

Roundtree’s legacy continued with the release of a new “Shaft” film in 2019. Once again, he returned to play the iconic character, this time alongside a new generation of actors. By continuing to embody the role of John Shaft, Roundtree ensured that the character and the franchise remained relevant to audiences of all ages.

Shaft Star Richard Roundtree Dead at 81

Other Acting Work

Role in ‘Roots’

In addition to his work in the “Shaft” franchise, Roundtree had a notable role in the famous “Roots” miniseries. He portrayed the character of Sam Bennett, contributing to the powerful storytelling of the series.

Father in ‘Being Mary Jane’

One of Roundtree’s more recent roles was that of Gabrielle Union’s father in the drama series “Being Mary Jane.” Union, in a heartfelt tribute, described working with Roundtree as a dream and praised his cool demeanor and the positive energy he brought to the set.

Celebrities’ Tribute to Roundtree

Gabrielle Union’s Tribute

Shortly after Roundtree’s passing, actress Gabrielle Union took to social media to express her admiration and love for the late actor. Union described working with Roundtree as a dream and shared how he was always the coolest person in the room, attracting people with his vibrant personality and captivating stories.

Other Celebrities’ Reactions

Upon hearing the news of Roundtree’s death, numerous celebrities took to social media to pay their respects and share their memories of the legendary actor. Roundtree’s impact on the entertainment industry was evident in the outpouring of love and admiration from his peers, highlighting his lasting influence and the significant mark he left on Hollywood.

Shaft Star Richard Roundtree Dead at 81

Last Interview with Richard

In a 2018 interview, Roundtree discussed filming the reboot of the “Shaft” franchise alongside Samuel L. Jackson. He shared his excitement about revisiting the character and the joy of working with his fellow cast members. This interview serves as a reminder of Roundtree’s passion for his craft and his dedication to bringing the character of John Shaft to life.

Impact on Hollywood

Representation of Black Actors

Roundtree’s groundbreaking role as the first Black action hero in Hollywood opened doors for Black actors and expanded the possibilities for onscreen representation. His success challenged the stereotypes and limited opportunities that Black actors faced in the industry, paving the way for greater diversity and inclusion in Hollywood.

Paving the Way for Future Actors

By breaking barriers, Roundtree set a precedent for future generations of actors to follow. His achievements served as inspiration for aspiring actors of all backgrounds, showing them that they could thrive in an industry that had historically been exclusionary. Roundtree’s legacy includes empowering the next wave of talented individuals to pursue their dreams in film and television.

Shaft Star Richard Roundtree Dead at 81


Fans’ Reactions

Fans from all over the world expressed their grief and shared their memories of Roundtree on social media. Many recounted how his performances in the “Shaft” movies and other significant roles had a profound impact on their lives. The overwhelming sentiment was one of gratitude for his contributions to the film industry.

Legacy in the Film Industry

Richard Roundtree’s legacy as a trailblazing actor will endure for generations to come. His portrayal of John Shaft and other memorable characters showcased his talent and charisma, leaving an indelible mark on the film industry. His work broke barriers and inspired both audiences and fellow actors, cementing his place in Hollywood history.

Funeral and Memorial Plans

Private Funeral Service

Roundtree’s family has planned a private funeral service to honor his life and say their final goodbyes. This intimate gathering will provide a space for his loved ones to come together and share their memories, supporting one another during this challenging time.

Public Memorial Arrangements

To ensure that Roundtree’s fans have an opportunity to pay their respects, his family is organizing a public memorial service. This event will allow fans and fellow industry professionals to come together and celebrate Roundtree’s life and contributions. Details regarding the date, time, and location of the public memorial will be announced soon.

Shaft Star Richard Roundtree Dead at 81


Richard Roundtree’s passing marks the end of an era in the film industry. His portrayal of detective John Shaft made a lasting impact and broke barriers for Black actors. Roundtree’s career and legacy serve as a testament to his talent, charisma, and the influence he had on Hollywood. As fans and loved ones mourn his loss, it is essential to remember and celebrate Roundtree’s contributions as a trailblazing actor and his lasting legacy in the film industry.

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