Old School Americana & Nostalgia


Richard Roundtree Dead at 81, Fans Pay Tribute to ‘Shaft’ Icon

Richard Roundtree Dead at 81, Fans Pay Tribute to ‘Shaft’ Icon

Richard Roundtree, who inspired a generation with his iconic role in the Shaft franchise, passed away on October 24. He was 81 years old. Following news of his death, fans of the late star took to social media to pay tribute and celebrate his indelible legacy as the first Black action movie hero.

“When Richard Roundtree exits the subway platform and struts down the streets of New York City as the opening chords of Issac Hayes’ Theme From Shaft echoes in the air, you know you’re watching one of the coolest dudes on planet Earth,” one fan wrote.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams revealed himself a lifelong fan of Richard Roundtree and the legendary Shaft. “Richard Roundtree told young Black men like me that we could be heroes – and that heroes ‘won’t cop-out when there’s danger all about,’” Adams wrote on Twitter. “His impact on the stage and screen paved the way for generations of Black actors and he will never be forgotten. Rest in power.”

And of course, many fans couldn’t help but point out Roundtree’s undeniable coolness. “A man of impeccable style and presence, even (especially) in old age. Iconic as Shaft, and a wonderful supporting actor in plenty of great genre fare. RIP,” one fan wrote. “RIP to the legendary Richard Roundtree, prayers to his family. He was a bad mother…” another said.

Fellow Stars Pay Tribute to Richard Roundtree

In addition to the countless fans who enjoyed Richard Roundtree’s work from theater seats and living room couches, many of Richard Roundtree’s colleagues paid tribute to the late icon. One such star was Gabrielle Union, who worked with Roundtree on the television series Being Mary Jane.

“Working with Richard Roundtree was a dream,” Union wrote on Twitter. “Getting to hang with him & our Being Mary Jane family was always a good ass 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.”

Isaac Hayes, composer of the Shaft theme, penned a Twitter post saying, “The Hayes family would like to share our sadness with the loss of Richard Roundtree, a true icon. His legendary role as SHAFT, transcended the screen, defining an era. Rest in power, Richard.”

Meanwhile, Samuel L. Jackson took to Instagram to pay tribute to his late friend. “Richard Roundtree, The Prototype, The Best To Ever Do It!! SHAFT, as we know it is & will always be His Creation!!,” Jackson wrote next to a photo of himself with Roundtree on the set of Shaft. “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.”