LOS ANGELES (KTLA) — Actor Richard Roundtree died Tuesday after a brief battle with pancreatic cancer. About two months since being diagnosed, Roundtree, 81, died surrounded by family, according to TMZ, citing the actor’s longtime agent.
Roundtree broke barriers and reached international stardom as the titular character in the “Shaft” franchise. He is known far and wide for his portrayal of Detective John Shaft in the iconic 1970s “Blaxploitation” film series and TV show.
Roundtree returned to the series for two films in the new millennium, reprising the character he originated, the uncle of Samuel L. Jackson’s “Shaft” for a new generation.
“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 and people would literally run over to come see him. He was simply the best and we all loved him,” she wrote.