Richard Roundtree

Date Of Birth:
9 July 1942
Date Of Death:
24 October 2023
Place Of Birth:
New Rochelle, New York
Best Known As:
The star of the 1971 movie Shaft

Richard Roundtree was an American actor who first shot to fame as the star and titular character of the 1971 movie Shaft.

He appeared in the movie’s sequels and many other feature films, but most of his long career was in television series work.

Originally from New York, Roundtree attended college in Illinois, where he discovered theater; he left college to pursue a career in New York City, where he joined the Negro Ensemble Company in 1967.

1970 brought him a small film role, and then he was cast as the star of Shaft, a rare example of a mainstream action film with a Black lead -- and an early example of what came to be called “blaxploitation” films (originally a derogatory term to convey that the films relied on some racial stereotypes).

The film’s success led to Shaft’s Big Score (1972) and Shaft in Africa (1973) as well as a short-lived TV series (1973-74).

For most of his career after that, Roundtree was more character actor than leading man and continued to work consistently in film and television.

His film credits include: Earthquake (1974); Inchon (1981); City Heat (1984); Se7en (1995); George of the Jungle (1997, starring Brendan Fraser); a rebooted Shaft (2000, starring Samuel L. Jackson); Brick (2005, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt); Speed Racer (2008); and yet another Shaft (2019).

Roundtree’s television credits include: Roots (1977); A.D. (1985); Outlaws (1986-87); A Different World (1989); Generations (1990); Buddies (1996); 413 Hope St. (1997-98); Rescue 77 (1999); Soul Food (2000-01); Desperate Housewives (2004-05); Heroes (2006-07); Being Mary Jane (2013-19); and Family Reunion (2019-22).

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