Popular Actor Who Starred In Shaft Dies At 81

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Actor Richard Roundtree is better known for the character he portrayed in a series of movies, John Shaft, the star of the 1971 movie “Shaft.” He went on to star in the sequels, “Shaft’s Big Score” and “Shaft in Africa,” as well as the 1973 TV series “Shaft.” In the 2000 movie “Shaft,” which starred Samuel L. Jackson in the title role, Roundtree joined the cast as Shaft’s uncle, Uncle John Shaft.

Besides the “Shaft” movies, Roundtree acted in a variety of other TV and film projects, including “Brick,” “Speed Racer,” “George of the Jungle,” and the TV series “Family Reunion.” His most recent role was earlier this year in “Collar – Director’s Cut” as Reverend Alonzo Sparks.

Now, Roundtree’s manager, Patrick McMinn of McMinn Management and Artists & Representatives Agency, has confirmed the sad news that Roundtree has died at the age of 81 years old. His cause of death was pancreatic cancer. He died on Tuesday, October 24, 2023, with his family by his side.

Roundtree was born in New Rochelle, New York in 1943, and he worked as a model before he became an actor. When Roundtree was cast as Shaft, he was basically an unknown actor in the business, but the role quickly made him a household name.

Throughout his career, Roundtree took home multiple awards. In 1994, he took home an MTV Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2002, he took him a Peabody Award. In 2010 he took home a Black Theater Alliance Award Lifetime Achievement Award.

In 1993, he was diagnosed with breast cancer. He fought the cancer and beat it, but he used his diagnosis as an opportunity to raise awareness about male breast cancer.

Roundtree was married two times. His first wife was Mary Jane Grant. They got married in 1963 and had two children together. Ultimately, their marriage ended in divorce in 1973. In 1980, Roundtree remarried, this time to a woman named Karen Michelle Ciernia. They had three children together, but once again, the marriage ended in divorce, this time in 1988.

Watch the video below to learn more about Roundtree’s life and career.

Roundtree is survived by his children.