The entertainment world is in mourning following the death of legendary actor Richard Roundtree, best known for his iconic role as private eye John Shaft in the 1970s Shaft movies. Roundtree passed away at the age of 81 due to pancreatic cancer, as confirmed by his manager, Patrick McMinn.
Celebrities Pay Their Respects
Samuel L. Jackson, who co-starred with Roundtree in the 2019 reboot of the Shaft franchise, took to Instagram to share his sentiments. “Richard Roundtree, The Prototype, The Best To Ever Do It!!” Jackson wrote. He continued, “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🤎👊🏾👊🏾👊🏾,” Jackson wrote in a heartfelt tribute. “Love you Brother, I see you walking down the Middle of Main Street in Heaven & Issac’s Conducting your song🎶🎶👊🏾coat blowin’ in wind!!”
Gabrielle Union, who worked with Roundtree on BET’s drama “Being Mary Jane,” expressed her grief on social media platform X. “Working with Richard Roundtree was a dream,” she wrote. “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.”
More Than Just Co-Stars
In “Being Mary Jane,” Roundtree played Union’s on-screen father, and their off-screen relationship seemed just as familial. Union elaborated on the joy of working with him, stating, “Getting to hang with him & our Being Mary Jane family was always a good a– time with the best stories & laughs.”
“Richard, you have made such a lasting impact on my life. I am forever grateful for your warm energy, your light, your heart, and your incredible wisdom 🕊️,” she wrote on Instagram. “I will miss you and our times together in our trailers – you teaching me the right way to take down some whiskey. I love you.”
“Thank you for blessing this world with your gifts 🙏🏿 Rest in Power #RichardRoundtree,” Mowry continued. She wrote on Instagram.
Other Industry Tributes
Jeffery Wright, who starred alongside Roundtree and Jackson in the 2000 Shaft film, succinctly captured the sentiment many are feeling: “The OG. And a lovely man. RIP,” he tweeted.
Loni Love, the former talk show host, reflected on what Roundtree meant to her growing up. “He was fabulous as John Shaft at a time when there were few leading Black men in film. He put the sexy and cool in being a detective. Rest well,” she posted on X.
Sheryl Lee Ralph, the star of “Abbott Elementary,” also shared her condolences. “When I was a teenager I used to dream about growing up to meet Richard Roundtree,” she wrote. “I did and what a wonderful human being.”
A Lasting Legacy
Richard Roundtree’s impact on the industry and on the lives of those who knew him is immeasurable. He was not just an actor; he was a trailblazer, a mentor, and above all, a beloved figure who will be sorely missed.
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