Richard Roundtree, the iconic actor known for his role as detective John Shaft in the Shaft movie franchise, has passed away at the age of 81. His death was confirmed by (The Hollywood Reporter) his longtime manager, Patrick McMinn, and his agency, Artists & Representatives Agency.

According to McMinn’s statement, Richard Roundtree died after a brief battle with pancreatic cancer. He had been diagnosed with the disease two months ago. His family was with him at his bedside during his final moments.

Photo: Richard Roundtree/

Richard Roundtree was a trailblazer in Hollywood, considered the first Black action movie hero. He gained widespread recognition for his portrayal of the ultra-smooth private detective in the Shaft films, which began in the early 1970s. The blaxploitation classic, Shaft, broke barriers and became a cultural phenomenon.

Although Roundtree will always be indelibly tied to the role of Shaft, he remained active in the industry throughout his career. He appeared in numerous other films and television shows, showcasing his versatility as an actor.

His passing is a great loss to the entertainment industry, and fans around the world mourn the loss of a talented and influential actor. Richard Roundtree’s contributions to film and his groundbreaking portrayal of a Black action hero will forever be remembered and cherished.

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