Richard Roundtree Remembered by Samuel L. Jackson, Ava DuVernay, Gabrielle Union

LOS ANGELES - JAN 28: Richard Roundtree at the "What Men Want" Premiere at the Village Theater on January 28, 2019 in Westwood, CA — Photo by Jean_Nelson/Deposit Photos

Legendary actor Richard Roundtree died Tuesday in Los Angeles at age 81 after battling pancreatic cancer.

Roundtree paved the way for Black actors to be considered viable action heroes on screen, after starring as John Shaft in the 1971 action thriller, Shaft, followed by four sequels and a television series centering on the character.

Over his six-decade acting career, Roundtree had roles in numerous films including Se7en (1995) and What Men Want (2019).

The New York native was a prolific television actor, with parts on As the World Turns, Being Mary Jane, Star, Family Reunion, Cherish the Day, Chicago Fire, Roots, Lincoln Heights, Roc, Diary of a Single Mom, Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, 21 Jump Street, The Love Boat, and other shows.

Related StoryRichard Roundtree Dies – Iconic ‘Shaft’ Star Was 81

As news of the iconic actor’s death spread, Hollywood stars paid tribute to him on social media.

Samuel L. Jackson who co-starred with Roundtree in two Shaft sequels remembered the late actor for opening doors.

“The passing of Richard Roundtree is a real blow. Loved being around him, learning, working, laughing & feeling Blessed to have an idol live up to who I expected him to be!! Thanks for making us feel REAL GOOD about ourselves! Rest In Power,” Jackson shared on X/Twitter.

Gabrielle Union, who shared the screen with Roundtree on her BET series Being Mary Janes, described the actor as “simply the best.”

“Working with Richard Roundtree was a dream. Getting to hang with him & our Being Mary Jane family was always a good a– time with the best stories & laughs,” the actress posted on X. “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.”

Filmmaker Ava DuVernay, who created the OWN anthology series Cherish the Day, said in an Instagram Story that Roundtree will be missed.

“He was a beautiful artist and a true gentleman,” DuVernay wrote. “We had the honor of working with him on Cherish the Day. We will miss him.”

Robert Townsend, who directed and executive produced Diary of a Single Mom, called Roundtree a hero.

“A sad day, I lost one of my first heroes on and off the screen… Richard Roundtree, I will always cherish this photo, it was the 1st time Mr. Roundtree and Mr Williams got to work together. On my series Diary of a Single Mom. God bless his soul and condolences to his family,” Townsend shared on X.

Holly Robinson Peete, who shared the screen with Roundtree on Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper and 21 Jump Street, also paid tribute to the acting legend.

“My heart hurts to hear this beautiful legendary actor/actor/pioneer has passed. Blessed to have known him and worked with him on 21 Jump Street AND Hangin With Mr. Cooper. I gave him his flowers every chance I got. Rest In Peace, Richard Roundtree,” she shared on X.