Seeing Richard Roundtree in the latest installment of the Shaft film series brings back memories of his stellar performance in the original Shaft film as far back as 1971. As much as he tried to avoid being tagged a black action hero back in the days, depicting John Shaft the way he did made it impossible and he has come to terms with all the fame the role has brought his way. While age is gradually taking a tow on him, the American actor still has what it takes to be a Shaft and considering the fact that the character now has a third generation to carry on his legacy, the end is not anywhere close.
Away from the overwhelming fame playing John Shaft brought him, Roundtree has many tales to tell. He started from modeling and worked his way to stage, as well as the screen where he has a record of over 100 projects across film and TV shows. What’s more, Roundtree is a breast cancer survivor. Full details as you keep reading.
Who Is Richard Roundtree, The Actor Who Plays Shaft?
In a nutshell, Richard Roundtree is one hell of an actor. The veteran was born on July 9, 1942, in New Rochelle, New York. His parents, John and Kathryn Roundtree, saw to it that he received the necessary education. After graduating from New Rochelle High School in 1961, where he played football, Roundtree headed to Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois. He would later find his forte in the performing arts, provoking him to ditch college in 1963 so as to pursue a career in entertainment.
His illustrious career, however, didn’t start in acting but he first signed with Johnson Publications, touring as a model in their Ebony Fashion Fair. This venture was supposed to be a brief one after which he would return to school but he saw a brighter future in the showbiz industry and went after it. Subsequently, he joined New York’s acclaimed Negro Ensemble Company. Under the company, he appeared in many stage productions, including The Great White Hope, where he played the role of boxing giant Jack Jackson.
Richard Roundtree became a ’70s screens sensation as his career progressed, this was facilitated by the opportunity to play the role of private detective John Shaft. Depicting the iconic character in the legendary Shaft movie franchise was all he needed to set his career under the international spotlight. He subsequently became a Hollywood hottie, as well as a global household name. The actor would go on to reprise his role in the four sequels in the franchise, released between 1971 and 2019. Some of his recent film projects include Duke (2018) and What Men Want (2019). He has also played prominent roles in a lot of TV series, including Generations (1989–1991), Heroes (2006-2007), Diary of a Single Mom (2009-2011), Lethal Weapon (2018), Family Reunion (2019), and a lot more.
As expected of such a superlative career, Richard Roundtree has received love in the form of awards. He won a Legacy Award from the African-American Film Critics Association in 2011 and a Lifetime Achievement Award at the MTV Movie + TV Awards for his performance in the Shaft film series. He has also recorded several nominations, including at the NAACP Image and Golden Globe Awards.
Does Richard Roundtree Have A Wife And Kids?
Since 1998, Richard Roundtree has been without a wife, though he must have been involved in a few relationships. On the marital front, he has been married twice and both ended in divorce but not without making him a father of five.
The first time Roundtree got married was to Mary Jane Grant. They exchanged vows on November 27, 1963, and two children later, divorce found a way into the union and it ended in December 1973. The actor tried again, this time with Karen M. Ciernia whom he married in September 1980. Roundtree and Ciernia welcomed three children while their marriage lasted and in 1998, they ended up divorcing each other.
Richard Roundtree went through chemotherapy following a diagnosis of breast cancer in 1993. To kick the disease out for good, he had a double mastectomy which apparently worked as he has lived as a breast cancer survivor since then. Richard has taken a stand by participating in events that help raise awareness and funds towards finding a potent cure for this disease.