Shaft Star Richard Roundtree, Passes Away

Shaft first premiered in theaters in 1971.

Richard Roundtree then and now, Shaft star.

Richard Roundtree, best known for his iconic role as John Shaft in the “Shaft” film series, has passed away. He was 81. Roudntree’s career took off with the 1971 classic “Shaft.” His portrayal of the suave and tough private detective became a symbol of 1970s Blaxploitation cinema. His charismatic performance in the original film, in which he played a no-nonsense detective navigating the gritty streets of New York City, not only solidified his status as a leading man but also broke ground by giving Black actors a prominent and empowering role in the industry. The success of the film led to two sequels, “Shaft’s Big Score!” (1972) and “Shaft in Africa” (1973), and a later reboot of the franchise in 2000, in which Roundtree reprised his role as the elder John Shaft.

Throughout his career, Roundtree has been associated with the iconic character and appeared in various other film and television projects. He took on diverse roles in films like “Man Friday” (1975), “Se7en” (1995), and “Brick” (2005). On television, he has appeared in popular series like “Roots” (1977), “The Larry Sanders Show” (1996-1997), and “Being Mary Jane” (2013-2019). His groundbreaking role marked Roundtree’s legacy in the entertainment industry as John Shaft. It paved the way for greater diversity and representation in Hollywood while also establishing him as a respected and enduring actor in both film and television.

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Sean Tajipour is the Founder and Editor of Nerdtropolis and the host of the Moviegoers Society Podcast. He is also a member of the Critics Choice Association. You can follow on Twitter and Instagram @Seantaj.

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