Tributes pour in after Shaft star Richard Roundtree dies aged 81 3 months ago

Tributes pour in after Shaft star Richard Roundtree dies aged 81

His role as John Shaft made him one of the first black action heroes in movies.

Richard Roundtree, best known for playing the iconic private detective John Shaft in several movies and on TV, has died at age 81.


His manager Patrick McMinn told The Hollywood Reporter that the actor passed away from pancreatic cancer at his home in Los Angeles.

Roundtree is best known for his debut film role in the 1971 crime action thriller Shaft, in which he played a private eye named John Shaft who is hired by a crime lord to find and retrieve the latter's kidnapped daughter.

The movie was a box office hit and wound up winning an Oscar for its legendary theme song written and recorded by Isaac Hayes.


Tributes pour in after Shaft star Richard Roundtree dies 81

One of the first black action heroes in cinema, Roundtree reprised his role as Shaft in two direct sequels, a TV series and in two 21st century reboots alongside Samuel L. Jackson, who played a younger relative of the private eye.

On top of playing John Shaft, Roundtree worked consistently in movies and TV for 50 years and had roles in such well-known films as Earthquake, City Heat, Maniac Cop, Se7en, George of the Jungle, Brick and Speed Racer.

He also appeared in episodes of Roots, Beauty and the Beast, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Alias, Desperate Housewives, Heroes and Chicago Fire.


Paying tribute to his co-star, Samuel L. Jackson wrote on Twitter:

"The passing of Richard Roundtree is a real blow. Loved being around him, learning, working, laughing and feeling blessed to have an idol live up to who I expected him to be.

"Thanks for making us feel real good about ourselves! Rest in power."


He also wrote on 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.

"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 Shat is a bad mutha, shutcho mouth!! But I’m talkin’ bout Shaft!! Then we can digit.'"


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Gabrielle Union, Roundtree's co-star in the TV show Being Mary Jane, said working with him was a "dream".


"He was always the coolest man in the room with the best vibes and people would literally run over to come see him. He was simply the best and we all loved him."

You can read more tributes to Roundtree below:


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