On Tuesday, October 24, actor Richard Roundtree died after battling pancreatic cancer. Roundtree’s agent, Patrick McMinn, confirmed the news shortly after his passing.
“Artists & Representatives Agency mourns the loss of our friend and client Richard Roundtree,” McMinn said, according to NBC News.
“His trailblazing career changed the face of entertainment around the globe and his enduring legacy will be felt for generations to come.”
Roundtree is a native of New Rochelle, New York who attended Southern Illinois University before dropping out to pursue an acting career. Eight years after dropping out, he landed the role of John Shaft in the 1971 hit, Shaft. Roundtree would remain in the role for three more films, including 1973’s Shaft In Africa, 2000’s Shaft and 2019’s Shaft. His performances would earn him nominations at the Golden Globe Awards and NAACP Image Awards. In 1994, he was honored for his work with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the MTV Movie + TV Awards.
Roundtree’s talent and success as John Shaft allowed him to transition into other roles throughout the years. His film and television credits include Grey’s Anatomy, Desperate Housewives, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, The Closer, Being Mary Jane, The Hollywood Squares, 21 Jump Street and A Different World among others.
“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,” actress Gabrielle Union wrote.
“I just heard, the icon that is Richard Roundtree is gone. The original Shaft! His performance influenced so many and so much. And he was a great guy,” actor Carl Weathers added.
Richard Roundtree was 81 years young at the time of his passing.