Richard Roundtree, ‘Shaft’ star, dead at 81

Wave Staff and Wire Reports

LOS ANGELES — Richard Roundtree, who played the lead role in the movie series “Shaft,” has died from pancreatic cancer at his home here. He was 81.

His manager Patrick McMinn told TMZ Roundtree died Oct. 23. He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer two months ago and his family was with him when he died.

Roundtree is best known for his role of detective John Shaft in the original “Shaft” movie franchise that began in 1971. He returned in the role in two sequels, “Shaft’s Big Score” in 1972 and “Shaft in Africa” in 1973.

He was nominated for New Star of the Year at the Golden Globe Awards for his performance in “Shaft.”

He also appeared in the “Shaft” TV series and was in the 2000 remake of “Shaft” with Samuel L. Jackson.

Jackson called news of Roundtree’s death “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,” Jackson said on a social media post. “Thanks for making us feel real good about ourselves.”

Roundtree also appeared in the miniseries “Roots” as Sam Bennett.

Gabrielle Union, who worked with Roundtree on the drama series “Being Mary Jane,” posted on social media that 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. … We all loved him,” Union posted on social media.

Famed athletes like Magic Johnson and Deion Sanders posted on social media about looking up to Roundtree as a symbol of cool.

“Growing up as a little boy, Richard Roundtree was the man we idolized because he was so cool on and off the screen,” Johnson said. “When Richard starred in ‘Shaft,’ we all lost our minds.”

“My heart hurts to hear this beautiful legendary actor … has passed,” actress Holly Robinson Peete said. “Blessed to have known him and worked with him on ‘21 Jump Street’ and ‘Hangin With Mr. Cooper.’”