Chadwick Boseman, the actor who rose to fame as the frontman of the breakthrough film “Black Panther” and who also played pioneering black figures like Jackie Robinson, James Brown and Thurgood Marshall, died on Friday. He was 43 years old.
A statement posted on Mr Boseman’s Instagram account claims the actor learned in 2016 that he had stage 3 colon cancer, which had progressed to stage 4.
He said he died at his home , with his wife and daughter. family by his side.
“A real fighter, Chadwick persevered in it all, and he brought you a lot of movies that you became so in love with,” the statement said. “From ‘Marshall’ to ‘From 5 Bloods’, ‘Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom’ by August Wilson and many more, all have been filmed during and between countless surgeries and chemotherapy.”
The news of Mr.
Boseman’s death has caused shock and sorrow among many prominent figures in the arts and civil life. Martin Luther King III, a human rights activist and eldest son of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., said the actor “brought history to life on the big screen” in his portrayals of black leaders .
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Oprah Winfrey tweeted that Mr Boseman was “a kind and gifted soul”.
“Showing us all this greatness between surgery and chemo,” he wrote. “The courage, the strength, the power it takes to get there. This is what dignity looks like. ”
Mr. Boseman played Major League Baseball’s first black player, Jackie Robinson, in “42” in 2013; bubbly soul singer James Brown in “Get On Up” in 2014; and the first black Supreme Court justice, Thurgood Marshall, in “Marshall”, in 2017.
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But he was best known for his role as T’Challa, or the Black Panther, king of the fictional African nation of Wakanda in the 2018 Marvel superhero film “Black Panther”.
The film was a cultural landmark:
the first major superhero film with an African protagonist; the first to play in a majority black cast; and Ryan Coogler, the first to employ a black screenwriter and director.
The film represented a period of hope, pride and empowerment for African American viewers, many of whom had special outings planned to see it and are dressed in African-inspired clothing and accessories.
Wakanda was powered by a mysterious metal, vibranium, and had escaped the historical trauma suffered by much of the rest of Africa, freeing it from the ravages of colonialism and postcolonialism. The phrase “Wakanda forever” has become a hashtag and a rallying cry.
The statement on Mr Boseman’s Instagram account states that it was “the honor of his career to bring King T’Challa to life in ‘Black Panther'”.
Brian Helgeland, the ’42’ writer and director, who cast Mr Boseman as his lead role, said Mr Boseman reminded him of rugged and confident icons of ’70s manhood such as Gene Hackman and Clint . Eastwood.
“It’s the way he behaves, his composure – you just have the feeling that you’re around a strong person,” Mr. Helgeland said. “There’s a scene in the movie where Robinson’s teammate Pee Wee Reese puts his arm around him as a kind of solidarity. But Chad turns it around. It looks like, ‘I’m fine, I’m tough as nails, but go. -y and put your arm around me if you feel better. “I think it’s Chad as a person.”
Mr. Boseman was born and raised in Anderson, S.C., the youngest of three boys.
Her mother, Carolyn, was a nurse and her father, Leroy, worked for an agricultural conglomerate and had a side business as an upholsterer.
“I saw him do a lot of third shifts, a lot of night work,” Boseman told The New York Times last year. “Every time I work a particularly difficult week, I think about him.”
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His closest role models were his two brothers: Derrick, the elder, a preacher from Tennessee; and Kevin, a dancer who has performed with the troupes of Martha Graham and Alvin Ailey and toured with the stage adaptation of “The Lion King”.
In high school, Mr.
Boseman was a serious basketball player, but he turned to storytelling after a friend and teammate was shot and killed. Mr. Boseman worked on his emotions by writing what he ultimately realized was a comedy. When it was time to consider colleges, he chose an arts program at Howard University with the dream of becoming a filmmaker.