Share this article

“He Will Be So Missed”: Devastated by Demise of Hollywood Veteran, Dwyane Wade’s Wife Gabrielle Pays Tribute With Heartfelt Note

Published 10/25/2023, 9:09 AM EDT

Follow Us

via Imago

A black hero who could compete with James Bond and Steve McQueen? John Shaft, played by Richard Roundtree, was the answer. He rocked a signature black leather jacket over a black turtleneck. Often regarded as the first black action hero, Roundtree achieved fame after playing the smooth-talker and lady’s man.

America’s Favorite Video Today

Earlier this week, Richard Roundtree passed away at the age of 81 after a short battle with pancreatic cancer. “Richard’s work and career served as a turning point for African-American leading men,” said his agent Patrick McMinn. He paved the way for stars like Samuel L. Jackson and Denzel Washington. Did you know Dwayne Wade‘s wife, Gabrielle Union, had the opportunity of working with him?

Richard Roundtree was “the coolest man in the room”, says Union


Article continues below this ad

Richard Roundtree passed away on Tuesday at his home in Los Angeles. He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. However, his battle with cancer dates back to 1993, when he was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent a double mastectomy.

Roundtree played the role of Paul Patterson Sr. from 2013 to 2019, the father of Gabrielle Union’s character in ‘Being Mary Jane‘. Having spent years with each other on set, Gabrielle was disheartened to hear the news. After hearing of his demise, Union took to social media to pay homage to the iconic actor. She initially posted an image of her and Richard together on the set of ‘Being Mary Jane‘.


Get instantly notified of the hottest NBA stories via Google! Click on Follow Us and Tap the Blue Star.

Follow Us

The 50-year-old actress captioned the post, “Working with Richard Roundtree was a dream. Getting to hang with him & our Being Mary Jane family was always a good a** 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. He was simply the best & we all loved him. #RIPRichardRoundtree.

Union also posted the loss of her coworker on her Instagram story. She wrote, “Richard was a sweet sweet man and a GOOD man. He will be so missed.

Even Samuel L. Jackson shared his thoughts. “Richard Roundtree, The Prototype, The Best To Ever Do It!! SHAFT, as we know it is & will always be His Creation…” Jackson worked with Roundtree in the two recent ‘Shaft’ movies.

Roundtree is regarded as the most influential action hero of the 70s. His five-decade acting career includes more than 150 movies and several television appearances.

Watch This Story: Impressing A’ja Wilson With NCAA Fierceness, Angel Reese Opens Up About Impact on WNBA

He played the lead role in the movie ‘Shaft’ back in 1971. It made him a star at the age of 29. The movie is so culturally relevant that it is now one of the oldest movie franchises in history and has five movies in total. The newest one was released in 2019. As revealed by the man himself in 1999, the role put him “on the map, number one.” But how did he bag the role?

It turns out the casting agent was looking for a guy like Roundtree. His obvious swagger helped him get the role, but it was his mustache that sealed the deal. The stache was very important in establishing a black hero who could compete with James Bond and Steve McQueen.

His performance in ‘Shaft’ earned him a nomination for the Golden Globe as a new star of the year. It was adapted by Ernest Tidyman and John D.F. Black from Tidyman’s novel.

Even though Richard was famous in the 1970s for his role in the movie ‘Shaft’, the younger generation knew him from his role in the 2013 series with Union.

He is survived by four daughters- Kelli, Nicole, Taylor, Morgan, and his son John. As per reports, he has at least one grandchild.


Article continues below this ad

Did you know Roundtree played football?

Richard Roundtree was born on July 9, 1942, to John and Kathryn Roundtree in New Rochelle, N.Y. While attending New Rochelle High School, Richard Roundtree was part of the school’s undefeated football team. 10 years after he graduated, though, Roundtree found his first major success in the field of acting.

Among his many pieces of work, he stood out in ‘Original Gangstas’, ‘Grey’s Anatomy’, ‘Chicago Fire’, and ‘Being Mary Jane’.


Article continues below this ad

Which character played by Richard Roundtree is your favorite?

Providing feedback will help us make your experience better.

The Fan's Perspective

Enjoyed Your Read? Let us know how likely you are to recommend EssentiallySports to your friends!

Least Likely

Most Likely



Written by:

Rijin Varghese


One take at a time

Rijin is an NBA content writer at EssentiallySports. Having followed the sport for over a decade, he translated that love to writing and he is a top journalist in the making. Specializing in the technical aspects of the game, he is enamored by the 3 principles of coaching of Gregg Popovich: Humility, Discipline, and Determination.
Show More>

Edited by:

Aakash Nair