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Richard Roundtree

Richard Roundtree

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Also Known As: Died:
Born: July 9, 1942 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: New Rochelle, New York, USA Profession: actor, janitor, salesman

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

This handsome black lead made his name as the smooth title character in the classic action film "Shaft" (1971), which while not exactly a blaxploitation movie itself, spawned a generation of them. Richard Roundtree subsequently starred in two sequels--"Shaft's Big Score" (1972) and "Shaft in Africa" (1973)--as well as a CBS TV series, "Shaft" (1973-1974) before settling in as a second lead and occasional star of various projects. There were years during the 1980s when the "Shaft" stigma seemed to put an early end to Roundtree's career, but he bounced back in the 90s with numerous films and TV shows. He was tapped to lead an ensemble cast, playing the head of a center for troubled teens in the Fox drama series "413 Hope Street" (1997). Roundtree was a virtual unknown, having appeared only in "What Do You Say to a Naked Lady?" (1970), when he was chosen by Gordon Parks to play "Shaft". Based on his success, he landed a variety of roles that included the manager of a daredevil motorcycle rider in "Earthquake" (1974). In 1975, he co-starred with Peter O'Toole in the title role of "Man Friday", a retelling of the "Robinson Crusoe" story in which Friday is not "civilized," and Crusoe commits suicide. After...

This handsome black lead made his name as the smooth title character in the classic action film "Shaft" (1971), which while not exactly a blaxploitation movie itself, spawned a generation of them. Richard Roundtree subsequently starred in two sequels--"Shaft's Big Score" (1972) and "Shaft in Africa" (1973)--as well as a CBS TV series, "Shaft" (1973-1974) before settling in as a second lead and occasional star of various projects. There were years during the 1980s when the "Shaft" stigma seemed to put an early end to Roundtree's career, but he bounced back in the 90s with numerous films and TV shows. He was tapped to lead an ensemble cast, playing the head of a center for troubled teens in the Fox drama series "413 Hope Street" (1997).

Roundtree was a virtual unknown, having appeared only in "What Do You Say to a Naked Lady?" (1970), when he was chosen by Gordon Parks to play "Shaft". Based on his success, he landed a variety of roles that included the manager of a daredevil motorcycle rider in "Earthquake" (1974). In 1975, he co-starred with Peter O'Toole in the title role of "Man Friday", a retelling of the "Robinson Crusoe" story in which Friday is not "civilized," and Crusoe commits suicide. After appearing in the disastrous "Inchon" (1982), film roles in the 80s became sporadic and Roundtree found himself generally playing law enforcement types, like the police commissioner in "Maniac Cop" (1988) and the police captain in both "Party Line" (1988) and "A Time to Die" (1991). After a supporting role in David Fincher's "Seven" and a turn as an iceman who sparks a racial incident in Tim Reid's "Once Upon a Time...When We Were Colored" (both 1995), he joined Bernie Casey, Fred Williamson, Pam Grier and other stars of 70s black action films in "Original Gangstas" (1996), in which the older stars--now somewhat paunchy--return for one last go-round. It put some spark into Roundtree's feature film career, as in 1997, he co-starred in both "Steel" (as the junkyard-owning mentor to the title character) and "George of the Jungle" (as the jungle leader Kwame).

On TV, Roundtree had one of his best opportunities in the breakthrough miniseries "Roots" (ABC, 1977), playing a handsome, well-groomed carriage driver with whom Kizzy (Leslie Uggams) falls in love until she sees that when the master (George Hamilton) calls, Roundtree grovels. Roundtree also starred in the miniseries "AD" (NBC, 1985), before having another shot at a series with a supporting role in "Outlaws" (CBS, 1986-1987) as Ice McAdams. By 1990, Roundtree was out of primetime and in the cast of the short-lived multi-racial NBC daytime drama "Generations", playing a doctor forced to live in hiding for 15 years for a murder he did not commit. He co-starred in two "Bonanza" revival movies, "The Return" (NBC, 1993), and "Under Attack" (NBC, 1995), and, during the 1995-1996 season, hosted the UPN specials "Cop Files". Roundtree tried his hand at sitcoms in 1996, playing Dave Chappelle's father in the short-lived "Buddies" (ABC). In 2001, Roundtree was cast in the comedy-crime feature "Corky Romano" and one year later, he toured with the play "Men Cry In The Dark."

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
2.
 Speed Racer (2008)
3.
 Point of Entry (2007)
5.
 Brick (2005)
6.
 Boat Trip (2003) Felicia'S Dad
7.
 Corky Romano (2001) Howard Shuster
8.
 Hawaiian Gardens (2001) (Cameo Appearance)
9.
 AntiTrust (2001) Lyle Barton
10.
 Shaft (2000) Uncle John Shaft
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1967:
Joined Negro Ensemble Company
1970:
Film debut, "What Do You Say to a Naked Lady?"
1971:
Starred in the title role as "Shaft"
1973:
TV-movie debut in "Firehouse" (ABC)
1973:
Starred in CBS TV series based on "Shaft"
1977:
Had featured role in the ABC miniseries "Roots"
:
Was regular on "Outlaws" (CBS)
1990:
Joined cast of the NBC daytime drama "Generations"
1993:
Appeared in first of several "Bonanza" TV-movies (NBC)
:
Hosted several "Cop Files" specials (UPN)
1996:
Joined other 1970s blaxploitation stars in "Original Gangstas"
1996:
Played father to Dave Chappelle on the ABC sitcom "Buddies"
1997:
Co-starred in "George of the Jungle"
1997:
Cast in the lead in the Fox drama "413 Hope Street"
2000:
Cast as Hardy Lester in "SoulFood"
2001:
Cast in the feature film "Corky Romano"
2001:
Toured with the play "Men Cry In The Dark"
2006:
Co-starred in the teenage film noir "Brick," opposite Joseph Gordon-Levitt
:
Will appear this year in the recurring role of Burke's father on "Grey's Anatomy" (ABC)
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Southern Illinois University: Carbondale , Illinois -

Notes

In the April 24, 2000 issue of People, Roundtree disclosed he had been diagnosed with breast cancer and had undergone a modified radical mastectomy in the fall of 1993.

"I don't know anything about black exploitation, especially in the context of 'Shaft'. I leave that subject alone. I'm proud to have done that film with a class act like Gordon Parks. You can't say his name and blaxploitation in the same sentence". --Richard Roundtree in Los Angeles Times, March 12, 1996

Roundtree on "Once Upon a Time...When We Were Colored": "When I was growing up my dad always had a room that he rented out, and a man named Mr. Warren used to live there. He was a construction worker. And on the weekend he would sit on the porch and smoke a cigar and tell us how the world worked. I've drawn on the Mr. Warrens in my life, and my dad, too. They all came back to me while I was making the film" --quoted in Daily News, January 21, 1996

"I was diagnosed with breast cancer in '93. Now I talk to men's groups about early detection, because men tend to ignore things that are going wrong with them. I tell them, 'If I did that, I wouldn't be here today.'"--Richard Roundtree in Biography Magazine 2002

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Karen Roundtree. Second wife; born c. 1958.

Family close complete family listing

father:
John Roundtree. Limo driver.
mother:
Kathryn Roundtree. Maid.
daughter:
Tayler-Marie Roundtree. Born c. 1988; mother, Karen Roundtree.
daughter:
Morgan Roundtree. Born c. 1990; mother, Karen Roundtree.
son:
John James Roundtree. Born on November 3, 1998; mother, Karen Roundtree.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

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