LOS ANGELES (KTLA) — Actor Richard Roundtree, who broke barriers and reached international stardom as the titular character in the “Shaft” film franchise, died Tuesday after a brief battle with pancreatic cancer.
Roundtree died surrounded by family about two months after being diagnosed with the disease, according to TMZ, citing the actor’s longtime agent.
Roundtree is best known for his portrayal of Detective John Shaft in the iconic 1970s “Blaxploitation” film series and TV show.
He returned to the series for two films in the new millennium, reprising the character he originated, and portraying the uncle of the new “Shaft,” portrayed by Samuel L. Jackson.
“Shaft” was selected by the Library of Congress for preservation due to its status as a “culturally, historically or aesthetically” significant film.
The New York Times also named the film among the 1,000 best films ever made.
Gabrielle Union, who starred alongside Roundtree in the BET series “Being Mary Jane,” posted a tribute to the actor on social media, calling it “a dream” to work with him.
“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,” Union wrote.
Roundtree was 81.