‘Shaft’ star Richard Roundtree dead at 81 after battle with pancreatic cancer

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‘Shaft’ star Richard Roundtree dead at 81 after battle with pancreatic cancer

“Shaft” star Richard Roundtree has died following his brief battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 81. The actor died Tuesday afternoo

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“Shaft” star Richard Roundtree has died following his brief battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 81.

The actor died Tuesday afternoon at home with his family by his side, his longtime manager, Patrick McMinn, confirmed to Deadline.

Roundtree’s agency, Artists & Representatives, also mourned his passing in a statement to the outlet.

“His trailblazing career changed the face of entertainment around the globe and his enduring legacy will be felt for generations to come,” they wrote. “Our hearts are with his family and loved ones during this difficult time.”

Reps for Roundtree did not immediately respond to Page Six’s request for comment.

He was 81 years old.
Paul Archuleta/Getty Images

The actor had previously battled breast cancer after being diagnosed in 1993. He had a double mastectomy and later went on to be a spokesperson for the Susan G. Komen foundation.


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In a 2009 interview with Coping Magazine, Roundtree called his diagnosis a “backhanded blessing.”

“I was boarding a plane to Vancouver for work, and the flight attendant literally grabbed me and said, ‘Thank you. Thank you so much. You saved my husband’s life,’” he recalled.

Roundtree, seen here with Samuel L. Jackson, had previously been diagnosed with breast cancer in 1993.
Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images

“As a result of her making him read my story, he went and got an early diagnosis.”

The acclaimed star had a decades-long career in Hollywood, but he’s best known for his portrayal of detective John Shaft.

In addition to starring in the hit 1971 movie, Roundtree reprised his iconic leading role in the sequels “Shaft’s Big Score!” and “Shaft in Africa.”

One of the actor’s most recent projects includes a role in the 2023 comedy “Thelma.”
Unique Nicole/Getty Images

Most recently, Roundtree appeared in the 2021 television series “Cherish the Day” and the 2023 comedy film “Thelma.”

Following the news of his death, fans and friends have been mourning the loss of the entertainment icon.

Gabrielle Union — who starred alongside the actor in “Being Mary Jane” — tweeted Tuesday, “Working with Richard Roundtree was a dream.

Roundtree, seen here with Jane Fonda, is survived by his five children.
Glen Wilson

“Getting to hang with him & our Being Mary Jane family was always a good ass time with the best stories & laughs. He was ALWAYS the coolest man in the room with the BEST vibes & ppl would literally run over to come see him.”

She added, “He was simply the best & we all loved him. #RIPRichardRoundtree.”

Roundtree is survived by his five children.



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