Richard Roundtree Wife, Shirtless, Fast Facts

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Birth: Richard Roundtree was born on July 9, 1942, in New Rochelle, New York, to parents John and Kathryn Roundtree.

High School Athlete: Roundtree attended New Rochelle High School, where he was a part of the nationally ranked football team.

Athletic Scholarship: In 1961, Roundtree earned an athletic scholarship to Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois.

Career Shift: Despite the scholarship, he left school in 1963 to pursue a career in acting and modeling.

Modeling Debut: Eunice Johnson of Ebony magazine hired Roundtree in 1963 to model for the Ebony Fashion Fair.

Negro Ensemble Company: In 1967, Roundtree joined the Negro Ensemble Company, portraying the role of boxing legend Jack Johnson in The Great White Hope.

Breakthrough Role: In 1971, he gained widespread recognition as John Shaft in the action film “Shaft,” directed by Gordon Parks.

Sequel Success: The success of “Shaft” led to two sequels, “Shaft’s Big Score” (1972) and “Shaft in Africa” (1973).

Golden Globe Award: Roundtree received the Golden Globe Most Promising Newcomer Award in 1972.

Filmography: He appeared in various films during the 1970s and 1980s, including “Earthquake” (1974), “Escape to Athena” (1979), and “A Game for Vultures” (1979).

Television Miniseries: Roundtree featured in the ABC television miniseries “Roots” in 1977.

Role Reprisal: He reprised the role of John Shaft in the 2000 film “Shaft,” alongside Samuel L. Jackson.

TV Series Appearances: Roundtree appeared in TV series such as “Soul Food,” “Desperate Housewives,” “Heroes,” and “Grey’s Anatomy.”

Being Mary Jane: In 2013, he became a series regular on “Being Mary Jane,” starring alongside Gabrielle Union and Margaret Avery.

FOX Series: Roundtree appeared in multiple episodes of FOX’s television series “Star” in 2017 and 2018.

Cancer Diagnosis: In 1993, Roundtree was diagnosed with a rare form of male breast cancer, leading to chemotherapy and a double mastectomy.

Breast Cancer Advocate: He served as a breast cancer awareness advocate for the Susan G. Komen Foundation and the Know Your Score Men’s Health Initiative.

MTV Lifetime Achievement Award: Roundtree received the MTV Lifetime Achievement Award for his iconic role as Shaft.

Awards and Recognition: He earned an Image Award nomination in 1998, a Peabody Award in 2002, and a Black Theater Alliance Award Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010.

Death: Richard Roundtree passed away on October 24, 2023, at the age of eighty-one.

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Legendary Actor: Richard Roundtree, renowned for his role as the iconic private detective in the “Shaft” film series, has passed away at the age of 81.

Pancreatic Cancer: Roundtree succumbed to pancreatic cancer at his Los Angeles home on Tuesday, as confirmed by his longtime manager, Patrick McMinn.

Trailblazer: Considered a trailblazer, Roundtree’s impactful career marked a turning point for African American leading men in the industry.

Breast Cancer Survivor: Diagnosed with breast cancer in 1993, Roundtree courageously underwent a double mastectomy, becoming an advocate for cancer awareness.

First Black Action Hero: Born in New Rochelle, New York, Roundtree is hailed as the first Black action hero, achieving fame through the blaxploitation genre.

John Shaft Character: At 28, Roundtree portrayed the street-smart John Shaft, directed by Gordon Parks, in the 1971 film “Shaft,” his first feature film after a modeling career.

Blaxploitation Impact: “Shaft” contributed to changing how Black movies were perceived in Hollywood, challenging the industry’s neglect of Black actors for leading roles.

Saturday Afternoon Shoot ‘Em Up: Roundtree described the film as a “good, old Saturday afternoon shoot ’em up” during a 2000 interview with The Associated Press.

Memorable One-Liners: His character in “Shaft” became known for popular one-liners, including the famous “It’s my duty to please that booty.”

Isaac Hayes’ Shaft Theme: Isaac Hayes’ iconic “Shaft” theme song elevated the movie’s status, winning an Academy Award and two Grammys in 1971.

Sequels and TV Series: Roundtree reprised the role in sequels “Shaft’s Big Score” (1972) and “Shaft in Africa” (1973) and later in the CBS television series “Shaft” in 1973.

2000 Shaft Revival: In 2000, he returned for the “Shaft” film revival alongside Samuel L. Jackson, playing Jackson’s uncle. They reprised their roles in the 2019 film.

Samuel L. Jackson Tribute: Jackson paid tribute, calling Roundtree the “prototype” and the “best to ever do it” in a heartfelt social media post.

Versatile Career: Over a 50-year career, Roundtree starred in diverse films like “Earthquake,” “Man Friday,” “Roots,” “Se7en,” and “What Men Want.”

Television Roles: Roundtree left a mark on television with roles in “Magnum P.I.,” “The Love Boat,” “Being Mary Jane,” and “The Love Boat.”

Lifetime Achievement Award: In 1995, he received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the MTV Movie & TV awards for his outstanding contributions to the industry.