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Actor Chadwick Boseman, who played black icons Jackie Robinson and James Brown before finding fame as the Black Panther in the Marvel cinematic universe, has died of cancer, his representative said. He was 43.
Boseman died at his home in the Los Angeles area with his wife and family by his side, his publicist Nicki Fioravante said on Friday.
Boseman was diagnosed with colon cancer four years ago, his family said in a statement.
“A true fighter, Chadwick persevered through it all, and brought you many of the films you have come to love so much,” his family said.
“From Marshall to Da 5 Bloods, August Wilsons Ma Raineys Black Bottom and several more – all were filmed during and between countless surgeries and chemotherapy. It was the honour of his career to bring King TChalla to life in Black Panther.”
Boseman had not spoken publicly about his diagnosis.
Born in South Carolina, Boseman graduated from Howard University and had small roles in television before his first star turn in 2013. His striking portrayal of the stoic baseball star Robinson opposite Harrison Ford in 2013s 42 drew attention in Hollywood.
Boseman died on a day that major league baseball was celebrating Jackie Robinson day.
“This is a crushing blow,” actor and director Jordan Peele said on Twitter, one of many expressing shock as the news spread across social media.
Mark Ruffalo, who starred alongside Boseman in the Marvel films, playing Hulk said it was an honour working with Boseman.
“All I have to say is the tragedies amassing this year have only been made more profound by the loss of ChadwickBoseman,” he said. “What a man, and what an immense talent. Brother, you were one of the all time greats and your greatness was only beginning. Lord love ya. Rest in power, King.”
Don Cheadle, who also starred with Boseman in the Marvel films, posted a picture of them together: “I will miss you, birthday brother. you were always light and love to me. my god ... forever and ever ...”
“This broke me,” said actor and writer Issa Rae.
His T’Challa character was first introduced to the blockbuster Marvel movies in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War, and his Wakanda Forever salute reverberated around the world after the release of Black Panther two years ago. It took in more than $1.3 bn in global box office and is the only Marvel Studios film to receive a best picture Oscar nomination.
He took on his first producing job in last years action thriller 21 Bridges, in which he also starred, and was last seen on-screen in Spike Lees film Da 5 Bloods as the leader of a group of Black soldiers in the Vietnam War.
Boseman completed one last performance, in an adaptation of August Wilson’s Neflix film, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. The film, in which Boseman stars alongside Viola Davis, finished shooting last summer.
It is sad to have lost such a wonderful and fine actor to Cancer. May his soul rest in peace.
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