pancreatic cancer, Richard Roundtree, Shaft

Richard Roundtree Dies At 81, Fellow Actors Pay Tribute

Richard Roundtree, known for his role in Shaft, has died at 81, as announced by his representatives on Oct. 25. In remembrance of the late star, fellow actors, including modern-day Shaft star Samuel L. Jackson, paid tribute to his legacy amid the news of his death from pancreatic cancer.

Roundtree was known for taking on the original role in the 1971 crime thriller, known for its contribution to the blaxploitation film genre. The late actor played the role of private detective John Shaft, taking on cases primarily in Harlem, New York, in all of its subsequent movies and television shows until 2019.

Samuel L. Jackson, who plays Roundtree’s son in the film, shared with his over 8 million followers his love for the “best to ever do it.” The photo displays an image from one of the Shaft sequels, featuring not only the father and son duo but the new generation’s Shaft as well, portrayed by Jessie T. Usher.


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A post shared by Samuel L Jackson (@samuelljackson)

“Richard Roundtree, The Prototype, The Best To Ever Do It,” expressed Jackson of his former co-star. “SHAFT, as we know it, is & will always be His Creation!! His passing leaves a deep hole not only in my heart but I’m sure a lotta y’all’s, too.”

Gabrielle Union, who also worked with Roundtree on her television show Being Mary Jane, expressed her sorrow over losing “the coolest man in the room.”

“Working with Richard Roundtree was a dream. Getting to hang with him & our Being Mary Jane family was always a good ass time with the best stories & laughs. He was ALWAYS the coolest man in the room with the BEST vibes & [people] would literally run over to come see him. He was simply the best & we all loved him,” shared the actress.

The New York native battled cancer throughout his career. Roundtree underwent chemotherapy and a double mastectomy for breast cancer in 1993. However, his later diagnosis of pancreatic cancer led to his death this October. Other Black actors, including Taraji P. Henson and Sheryl Lee Ralph, also paid tribute to the actor and his storied career.

Of his legacy and impact on the film industry, Variety released a statement made by his manager, Patrick McMinn.

“Richard’s work and career served as a turning point for African-American leading men in film. The impact he had on the industry cannot be overstated.”