Richard Roundtree passes away at 81
Richard Roundtree speaks at at LA Focus’ 24th Annual First Ladies High Tea on The Beverly Hilton on May 07, 2022 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Unique Nicole/Getty Images)

It’s with a heavy heart that I report Richard Roundtree, the iconic actor who starred in Gordon Parks’ 1971 action thriller, Shaft, has passed away.

Richard transitioned to his heavenly home on Tuesday (October 24) after a short battle with pancreatic cancer.

He was 81.

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Mr. Roundtree’s passing was confirmed by his Patrick McMinn, who has been the actor’s manager since 1987. 

In a statement, Patrick said: 

Richard’s work and career served as a turning point for African-American leading men in film.

The impact he had on the industry cannot be overstated.

Via Variety:

Born July 9, 1942 in Rochester, N.Y., Roundtree briefly attended Southern Illinois University before dropping out to pursue a modeling career. In the late ’60s, he joined the Negro Ensemble Company and began acting in New York stage productions.

Roundtree worked regularly for more than 50 years, with his iconic turn in “Shaft,” rich history in genre filmmaking and compelling screen presence adding color to the worlds of films like “Se7en,” “Brick” and “Speed Racer.” He played a supporting role in “Moving On,” a comedy starring Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda that debuted at the Toronto Film Festival last year before releasing in theaters this past summer.

Roundtree was married twice, first to Mary Jane Grant from 1963 to 1973, then to Karen M. Cierna, from 1980 to 1998. He is survived by his four daughters, Nicole, Tayler, Morgan and Kelli Roundtree, and his son, James.

Gabrielle Union took to social media to pay tribute to her TV dad writing:

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.

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. #RIPRichardRoundtree

See her original tweet below.

My sincerest condolences and prayers to Richard Roundtree’s family, friends, and all who knew and loved him. 

May he rest in peace. 

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