Richard Roundtree died Tuesday afternoon at the age of 81 after a short battle with pancreatic cancer.
The actor, considered the “first black action hero,” had a five-decade career in front of the camera.
He was undoubtedly best known for his portrayal of private detective John Shaft in the 1971 film Shaft and its four sequels.
However, the star appeared in numerous other films and television shows throughout his career, including Desperate Housewives and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
While Hollywood mourns the actor, MailOnline looks back on his career in photos.
In the Spotlight: Richard Roundtree Richard first played the role of detective John Shaft in 1971’s “Shaft,” directed by photographer-composer-turned-filmmaker Gordon Parks
Reception: The film initially received mixed reviews, with some critics objecting to the film’s harsh language and occasionally brutal violence
Richard first played the role of detective John Shaft in 1971’s Shaft, which was directed by photographer and composer-filmmaker Gordon Parks and featured a classic soundtrack recorded by Isaac Hayes.
The film initially received mixed reviews, with some critics criticizing the film’s harsh language and occasional brutal violence.
Although “Shaft” polarized critics, it was a popular success, grossing an astonishing $12 million on a budget of just $500,000 (that’s over $373 million when accounting for inflation).
The film made Roundtree a star and he was nominated for a Golden Globe for New Star of the Year for the 1971 film.
The following year he was back to reprise his role in Shaft’s Big Score! to repeat, which was also a commercial success and is now rated even more positively than the original by some modern critics.
Roundtree played Shaft again in 1973’s Shaft In Africa, this time with John Guillermin in the director’s chair, but that film was a commercial and critical smash.
Part of its failure was attributed to the emergence of other blaxploitation films inspired by and now competing with the 1971 original, while even James Bond – to whom the later incarnations of Shaft were compared – incorporated elements of the controversial genre with the 1973s had taken over, let live and die.
Take two: Richard was back the following year to reprise his role in Shaft’s Big Score! to repeat, which was also a commercial success and is now rated even more positively than the original by some modern critics
Franchise: Decades later, Richard accepted supporting roles as John Shaft in 2000’s “Shaft” (pictured with co-star Busta Rhymes).
The spy thriller starring Roger Moore hit theaters just a week after Shaft In Africa debuted.
After the film’s failure, MGM attempted to keep the series alive with a television series with a similar release structure to Colombo, in which the character starred in small seasons of several television films rather than regular one- or half-hour episodes.
Seven of the television films were produced for the series in 1973 and 1974, but the series was canceled after just one season, and Roundtree later criticized its supposedly pro-police attitude, which contrasted sharply with the edgier films.
Decades later, Richard took supporting roles as John Shaft in Shaft, a sequel to Boyz N The Hood’s John Singleton starring Samuel L. Jackson as Shaft’s nephew, later revealed to be his son.
The veteran star’s last role as the legendary private eye came in 2019’s “Shaft,” a sequel to the 2000 film that saw Jackson reprise his role as Shaft’s son and Jessie T. Usher, now playing the third generation of the Shaft family.
Man Friday (1975)
Film: Richard memorably appeared in the 1975 film Man Friday, playing the title character of Friday
Story: The adventure film was an adaptation of the 1973 play of the same name, which in turn was based on Daniel Defoe’s novel Robinson Crusoe
Richard memorably appeared in the 1975 film Man Friday, playing the title character of Friday.
The adventure film was an adaptation of the 1973 play of the same name, which in turn was based on Daniel Defoe’s novel Robinson Crusoe.
Richard played the role of Crusoe alongside Peter O’Toole. The film reverses the novel’s characters, with Crusoe being a straightforward Englishman and Friday being more empathetic and intelligent.
The film premiered at the 1975 Cannes Film Festival and director Jack Gold received a Palme d’Or nomination.
Being Mary Jane (2013-19)
Show: Richard is also known for his portrayal of Paul Patterson on the BET series Being Mary Jane
“The coolest man in the room”: Show star Gabrielle Union paid tribute to Richard following news of his death
Richard is also known for his portrayal of Paul Patterson on the BET series Being Mary Jane.
The actor played the father of the series’ main character, played by Gabrielle Union.
Gabrielle paid tribute to Richard following the news of his death, writing: “Working with Richard Roundtree was a dream.” Spending time with him and our Being Mary Jane family was always a great time with the best stories and laughs.
“He was ALWAYS the coolest man in the room with the BEST vibe and people would literally run over to see him.” “He was just the best and we all loved him.”
Family reunion (2019–2022)
Role: One of Richard’s most recent roles was in the sitcom Family Reunion, about a family who attends a reunion in Columbus, Georgia and then decides to move there to be closer together
Character: Richard portrayed the family’s grandfather, simply called “Grandpa,” a pastor and prostate cancer survivor
One of Richard’s final roles was in the sitcom Family Reunion, about a family that attends a reunion in Columbus, Georgia and then decides to move there to be closer together.
Richard portrayed the family’s grandfather, simply called “Grandpa,” a pastor and prostate cancer survivor.
His son Moz was portrayed by Anthony Alabi, while former Sister, Sister star Tia Mowry played his daughter-in-law Cocoa.