Chadwick Boseman, the rising star who shot to fame playing Jackie Robinson, James Brown, and the leading role in Black Panther, the first superhero of African descent in mainstream America comics, has died of colon cancer. He was 43.
His publicist Nicki Firavante confirmed that the actor died at his Los Angeles home with his wife and family by his side.
According to his family, Boseman was diagnosed with colon cancer four years ago. He never spoke publicly about his diagnosis.
“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 in a statement to the Associated Press. “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. It was the honor of his career to bring King T’Challa to life in Black Panther."
Boseman’s talent and versatility were evident.
In 2013’s 42, he played Jackie Robinson, the first Black man to play in Major League Baseball in the modern era. When the Dodgers signed Robinson in 1947, the team was heralded for ending racial segregation in the sport.
The next year, Boseman starred in Get on Up as James Brown, the dynamite singer and Godfather of Soul who blazed several trails in funk music in the later 20th century.
Of course, his iconic role in Black Panther solidified his legacy in Hollywood. The film to date has made nearly $1.4 billion in the box office worldwide. In it, he plays T’Challa, who is crowned king of Wakanda following his father’s death until he’s challenged by Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan), who plans to abandon the country’s policies to start a new revolution.
Boseman’s last role was in Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods, a drama following a group of aging Vietnam War veterans who return to find the remains of their fallen squad leader as well as a treasure they’d buried while serving there.