“Black Panther” star Chadwick Boseman passed away on Friday. He was 43.
In 2016, the actor learned that he had Stage 3 colon cancer, which had progressed to Stage 4. Boseman died in his home, with his wife and family by his side.
A statement released on his Instagram account read, “A true fighter, Chadwick persevered through it all, and brought you many of the films you have come to love so much. From ‘Marshall’ to ‘Da 5 Bloods,’ August Wilson’s ‘Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom’ and several more, all were filmed during and between countless surgeries and chemotherapy.”
News of his death has elicited shock and grief among many prominent celebrities in the arts and civic life.
Human-rights activist and the eldest son of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Martin Luther King III, said the actor had “brought history to life on the silver screen” in his portrayals of Black leaders.
Oprah Winfrey tweeted Boseman was “a gentle gifted SOUL.”
She wrote, “Showing us all that Greatness in between surgeries and chemo. The courage, the strength, the Power it takes to do that. This is what Dignity looks like.”
Boseman was best known for his role as T’Challa, king of the fictional African nation of Wakanda in the 2018 Marvel superhero movie “Black Panther,” the first major superhero movie with an African protagonist.
The film represented a moment of hope, pride, and empowerment among African-American moviegoers.
The statement on Boseman’s Instagram account said it was “the honor of his career to bring King T’Challa to life in ‘Black Panther.’”
Writer and director Brian Helgeland said, “It’s the way he carries himself, his stillness — you just have that feeling that you’re around a strong person. There’s a scene in the movie where Robinson’s teammate, Pee Wee Reese, puts his arm around him as a kind of show of solidarity. But Chad flips it on its head. He plays it like, ‘I’m doing fine, I’m tough as nails, but go ahead and put your arm around me if it makes you feel better.’ I think that’s who Chad is as a person.”
Boseman was also known for his several real-life historical figure roles, such as Jackie Robinson in 42 (2013), James Brown in Get on Up (2014), and Thurgood Marshall in Marshall (2017)
Born on November 29, 1976, Boseman was raised in Anderson, S.C.
His mother, Carolyn, was a nurse and his father, Leroy, worked for an agricultural conglomerate and had a side business as an upholsterer. Last year, he told The New York Times, “I saw him work a lot of third shifts, a lot of night shifts. Whenever I work a particularly hard week, I think of him.” Boseman took an acting class at Howard with the Tony Award-winning actress and director Phylicia Rashad. He taught acting to students at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem.