‘Shaft’ star Richard Roundtree, has died at 81
Written by Ella Melake on October 25, 2023
Richard Roundtree, the trailblazing actor who starred as the ultra-smooth private detective in several “Shaft” films beginning in the early 1970s, has died. He was 81.
Roundtree’s longtime manager, Patrick McMinn, said the actor had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and died at his home in Los Angeles on Tuesday. He was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1993 and underwent a double mastectomy.
“Richard’s work and career served as a turning point for African American leading men,” McMinn said. “The impact he had on the industry cannot be overstated.”
Roundtree’s “Shaft” was part of a change in how Black movies were viewed in Hollywood, which failed to consider Black actors – especially for leading roles — in projects at the time. The blaxploitation films were primarily aimed at the African American audiences.
In the film, his character navigated the world of thugs. He regularly whipped out popular one-liners like “It’s my duty to please that booty.”
“What we were doing was a good, old Saturday afternoon shoot ’em up,” Roundtree said in a 2000 interview with The Associated Press.