top of page
  • Writer's pictureVolume 82 Magazine

Richard Roundtree, Who Played Shaft, Dies at 81: Hollywood Pays Tribute

Richard Roundtree. Photo/Instagram @officialrichardroundtree

Actor Richard Roundtree passed away at 81 after a battle with cancer. His manager, Patrick McMinn of McMinn Management and Artists & Representatives Agency, confirmed his death in a statement, according to NBC News, "Artists & Representatives Agency mourns the loss of our friend and client Richard Roundtree," Patrick said, confirming the Hollywood star suffered from pancreatic cancer and died Tuesday afternoon.

Richard Roundtree in "Shaft." Photo/IMDb

Richard's most memorable role is for his outstanding portrayal of detective John Shaft in the 1971 film "Shaft," directed by the late Gordon Parks. Richard went on to give successful performances in the "Shaft" sequels and television series. In 2000, Roundtree appeared in John Singleton's remake of "Shaft," starring Samuel Jackson, and its sequel in 2019. The New York native became a hero for successfully executing a non-stereotypical role for a black actor in Hollywood during the early 1970s. The actor leaves behind an extensive career in film and television; he worked on several projects in Hollywood up until 2022.

Roundtree is receiving an outpour of love from fans and fellow stars; his "Being Mary Jane" co-star Gabrielle Union shared her sentiments about the actor on X, formerly Twitter; "Working with Richard Roundtree was a dream. ... He was ALWAYS the coolest man in the room with the BEST vibes & ppl would literally run over to come see him. He was simply the best & we all loved him." The creator of the Netflix series "Luke Cage," Cheo Coker, also spoke on the late actor on X, "My hero. A huge inspiration for Luke Cage."

Samuel Jackson paid tribute to him via Instagram, "Richard Roundtree, The Prototype, The Best To Ever Do It!! SHAFT, as we know it is [and] 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," he shared. "Love you Brother, I see you walking down the Middle of Main Street in Heaven [and] Issac's Conducting your song, coat blowin' in wind!! Angels whispering, That Cat SHAFT Is A Bad Mutha, Shutcho Mouth!! But I'm Talkin' Bout SHAFT!! THEN WE CAN DIGIT‼️‼️‼️‼️"

Roundtree reportedly leaves behind five children from two marriages. Job well done, Richard. We salute you!


bottom of page