Richard Roundtree: Shaft actor dies at 81

The 1970s movie franchise was iconic as it was among the first of what came to be known as Blaxploitation films, a genre featuring action movies that centred on heroic black characters.

Roundtree also appeared in a number of movies and TV series, which include the films Inchon and Seven as well as the television series Roots, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Desperate Housewives.

Samuel L Jackson, who appeared in the 2000 Shaft reboot as well as an 2019 instalment of the franchise with Roundtree, described the late actor as “the prototype, the best to ever do it”.

“His passing leaves a deep hole not only in my heart, but I’m sure a lotta y’all’s, too,” Jackson wrote on Instagram.

“Love you Brother, I see you walking down the Middle Street in Heaven & Isaac’s Conducting your song,” he added, referring to Shaft’s famous theme song which won an Oscar for best original music.

Roundtree was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1993 and underwent a double mastectomy.

He is survived by four daughters – Kelli, Nicole, Taylor, Morgan – his son John, and at least one grandchild, according to the New York Times.

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