He was one Bad Mutha — Shut yo mouth! A Tribute to Richard Roundtree aka “Shaft”.
Well, here we go again. We’ve lost another all time legend who passed away, or went home, as we spiritual believers like to say, on October 24th, 2023. He was 81 years young, survived Breast cancer for more than twenty years, making him a real life hero, and has left behind an incredible legacy that will most certainly live on. Perhaps his greatest contribution to cinema and the world at large is his iconic portrayl of slick, cool and tough private eye John Shaft. Shaft was as cool and deadly as James Bond, but with even more swagger and style. I’ll admit I’ve yet to ever actually seen any of Richard’s Shaft films, yet it speaks to the icon status of the character and Roundtree’s performance that I’ve known Shaft and his legendary theme song sung by the late great Issac Hayes my entire life. Of course, seeing the character and his theme parodied and paid homage to by many tv shows and movies helped too.
As a side note, Shaft 1971 had one of cinema’s greatest openings ever! We get to hear the theme in all its glory and get a fantastic introduction to the life of John Shaft.
As the first black action hero, Richard knew how important it was for film to represent Black actors with humanity and dimension. In the early days of Hollywood, there weren’t too many meaty roles for actors of color to sink their teeth into. Shaft and Richard himself helped open the doors for more definitive and unique roles for African American actors on both the big and small screen.
We shall pay tribute to Richard by highlighting his many roles onscreen, not just Shaft. The man was a versatile and multi dimensional actor who brought gravitas and swagger to every role he played:
R.I.P. Mr. Roundtree. Your grace was prominent, your cool and intellect was mesmerizing, and your legacy is eternal. In better words, you were definitely one bad mutha — — SHUT YO MOUTH! R.I.P.