Actor Chadwick Boseman, who rose to screen prominence as the star of « Black Panther, » has died.
Boseman had been battling cancer since 2016, according to the actor’s Twitter account. His publicist confirmed his death.
« It is with immeasurable grief that we confirm the passing of Chadwick Boseman, » a statement said on the actor’s official Twitter account. « Chadwick was diagnosed with stage III colon cancer in 2016 and battled with it these last four years as it progressed to stage IV. »
« A true fighter, Chadwick persevered through it all, and brought you many of the films you have come to love so much, » the statement continued. « 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. »
The actor had not publicly released he was battling cancer before his death. He was 43 years old, according to The Associated Press.
Boseman’s first starring role in film came as Cleveland Browns running back Ernie Davis in « The Express: The Ernie Davis Story » in 2008. He gained more plaudits as the star of another sports biography in 2013, this time playing barrier-breaking baseball player Jackie Robinson in « 42. » MLB celebrated Jackie Robinson Day on Friday.
But Boseman found his biggest box office success and worldwide star status as King T’Challa, the titular superhero Black Panther, in the Marvel film series. He made his first appearance as the character in « Captain America: Civil War » in 2016 before starring in his own standalone film two years later.
« Black Panther » was released in 2018 and smashed records with a box office total of more than $1.3 billion. It was also nominated for best picture at the Academy Awards, almost unheard of for a so-called superhero movie, and won Oscars for best costume design, best production design and best original score.
The movie won best outstanding performance by a cast in a motion picture at the 2019 Screen Actors Guild Awards.
In the message announcing his death, the statement said, « It was the honor of his life to bring King T’Challa to life in Black Panther. »
Co-star Lupito Nyongo wrote on Instagram about Boseman following the blockbuster’s opening in 2018, saying, « I admire your quiet, confident, regal nature. You brought the wealth of all your knowledge, wisdom and physicality to T’Challa. You led us into the land of Wakanda without ego, without pretense, without fear. »
« Our hearts are broken and our thoughts are with Chadwick Boseman’s family, » Marvel Studios wrote in a statement on Twitter. « Your legacy will live on forever. Rest In Peace. »
Executive Chairman of The Walt Disney Company Bob Iger said Boseman was « an extraordinary talent, and one of the most gentle and giving souls I have ever met. »
« He brought enormous strength, dignity and depth to his groundbreaking role of Black Panther; shattering myths and stereotypes, » Iger tweeted. » … For his friends and millions of fans, his absence from the screen is only eclipsed by his absence from our lives. All of us at Disney send our prayers and heartfelt condolences to his family. »
« I will miss you, birthday brother. you were always light and love to me. my god, » Cheadle, who plays War Machine, tweeted.
« All I have to say is the tragedies amassing this year have only been made more profound by the loss of #ChadwickBoseman, » Ruffalo, who plays the Hulk in « The Avengers, » wrote. « 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. »
« Chadwick’s passing is absolutely devastating. He was our T’Challa, our Black Panther, and our dear friend, » Kevin Feige, President, Marvel Studios and Chief Creative Officer at Marvel said in a statement Friday night. « Each time he stepped on set, he radiated charisma and joy, and each time he appeared on screen, he created something truly indelible.
« He embodied a lot of amazing people in his work, and nobody was better at bringing great men to life, » Feige continued. « He was as smart and kind and powerful and strong as any person he portrayed. Now he takes his place alongside them as an icon for the ages. The Marvel Studios family deeply mourns his loss, and we are grieving tonight with his family. »
Starting with Davis and Robinson, Boseman developed a reputation for playing towering real-life figures, including singer James Brown in 2014’s « Get on Up » and Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall in the 2017 film « Marshall. »
Boseman produced and starred in « 21 Bridges » last year and he was in Spike Lee’s Netflix film « Da 5 Bloods » released earlier this year.
The actor was born in Anderson, South Carolina, and went to college at Howard University in Washington, D.C., where he graduated with a bachelors degree in directing. The historically Black college released its own statement memorializing Boseman.
« It is with profound sadness that we mourn the loss of alumnus Chadwick Boseman who passed away this evening, » Howard President Wayne A. I. Frederick wrote. « His incredible talent will forever be immortalized through his characters and through his own personal journey from student to superhero! Rest in Power! »
Democratic vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris, also a Howard graduate, shared a photo of the two on Twitter and expressed her condolences. His final tweet, on Aug. 11, celebrated her being named Joe Biden’s running mate.
« My friend and fellow Bison Chadwick Boseman was brilliant, kind, learned, and humble, » she wrote. « He left too early but his life made a difference. Sending my sincere condolences to his family. »
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