May 23, 2024

Samuel L. Jackson, Gabrielle Union and more have paid tribute to “Shaft” icon Richard Roundtree, who died Tuesday afternoon after a short battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 81.

Jackson, who first portrayed detective John Shaft’s (Roundtree) nephew in the 2000 sequel to Gordon Park’s 1971 action thriller “Shaft,” posted a photo of the two of them on Instagram from the 2019 action thriller, also titled “Shaft.”

“Richard Roundtree, The Prototype, The Best To Ever Do It!! SHAFT, as we know it is & will always be His Creation!!,” Jackson wrote in the caption. “His passing leaves a deep hole not only in my heart, but I’m sure a lotta y’all’s, too.”

“Love you Brother, I see you walking down the Middle of Main Street in Heaven & Issac’s Conducting your song coat blowin’ in wind!! Angels whispering, ‘That Cat SHAFT Is A Bad Mutha, Shutcho Mouth!! But I’m Talkin’ Bout SHAFT!! THEN WE CAN DIGIT,’” he continued, referring to the late Isaac Hayes’ “Theme from Shaft,” which won an Oscar.

Union, who starred alongside Roundtree in the drama series “Being Mary Jane,” said working with the Blaxploitation film icon “was a dream.”

“Getting to hang with him & our ‘Being Mary Jane’ family was always a good ass time with the best stories & laughs,” Union wrote on X/Twitter. “He was ALWAYS the coolest man in the room with the BEST vibes & ppl would literally run over to come see him. He was simply the best & we all loved him.”

Roundtree’s longtime manager Patrick McMinn told Variety in a statement, “Richard’s work and career served as a turning point for African American leading men in film. The impact he had on the industry cannot be overstated.”

“His trailblazing career changed the face of entertainment around the globe and his enduring legacy will be felt for generations to come,” said Roundtree’s agency, Artists & Representatives.

Read more tributes below.


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