March 1, 2024

Richard Roundtree, the trailblazing actor who starred because the ultra-smooth personal detective in a number of “Shaft” movies starting within the early Nineteen Seventies, has died. He was 81.

Roundtree’s longtime supervisor, Patrick McMinn, stated the actor had been identified with pancreatic most cancers and died at his dwelling in Los Angeles on Tuesday. He was identified with breast most cancers in 1993 and underwent a double mastectomy.

“Richard’s work and profession served as a turning level for African American main males,” McMinn stated. “The influence he had on the trade can’t be overstated.”

Roundtree, who was born in New Rochelle, New York, was thought-about as the primary Black motion hero and have become one of many main actors within the blaxploitation style by his New York avenue good John Shaft character within the Gordon Parks-directed movie in 1971. At age 28, it was Roundtree’s first characteristic movie look after beginning his profession as a mannequin.

Roundtree’s “Shaft” was a part of a change in how Black motion pictures have been considered in Hollywood, which did not contemplate Black actors – particularly for main roles — in tasks on the time. The blaxploitation movies have been primarily aimed on the African American audiences.

Within the movie, his character navigated the world of thugs. He usually whipped out in style one-liners like “It is my responsibility to please that booty.”

“What we have been doing was an excellent, previous Saturday afternoon shoot ’em up,” Roundtree stated in a 2000 interview with The Related Press.

Isaac Hayes’ “Shaft” theme tune — which included the road “You a foul mom— (Shut your mouth)” — helped insinuate the unique film into the pop-cult consciousness. The singer, who died in 2008, stated the tune was “just like the ‘shot heard around the world.” His single received an Academy Award for greatest tune in 1971 and two Grammys the next yr.

After the movie’s success, Roundtree returned in sequels “Shaft’s Large Rating” in 1972 and “Shaft in Africa” in 1973. That very same yr, he performed the savvy detective as soon as once more on the CBS tv collection “Shaft,” which lasted solely seven episodes.

Roundtree reprised his position within the 2000 “Shaft” movie, a revival that starred Samuel L. Jackson. He appeared as Jackson’s uncle within the big-budget movie that was aimed on the normal viewers. Each appeared once more in the identical roles within the 2019 movie starring Jessie T. Usher.

Jackson known as Roundtree the “prototype” and the “greatest to ever do it” in a social media submit.

“SHAFT, as we all know it’s & will at all times be his Creation,” he stated of Roundtree. “His passing leaves a deep gap not solely in my coronary heart, however I am positive a lotta y’all’s, too.”

By means of his 50-plus yr profession, Roundtree appeared in a quantity different notable movies together with “Earthquake,” “Man Friday” with Peter O’Toole, “Roots,” “Maniac Cop” “Se7en” and “What Males Need” starring Taraji P. Henson. He additionally made his mark with tv roles on “Magnum P.I.,” “The Love Boat,” “Being Mary Jane” and “The Love Boat.”


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