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'Black Panther' star Boseman dies after private battle with cancer
Chadwick Boseman in Los Angeles, Nov. 18, 2018. Boseman, who found fame as the star of “Black Panther” and who also portrayed pathbreaking Black figures including Jackie Robinson, James Brown and Thurgood Marshall, died on Aug. 28, 2020 after a battle with colon cancer. He was 43. Magdalena Wosinska/The New York Times.

by Reggie Ugwu and Michael Levenson



NEW YORK (NYT NEWS SERVICE).- Chadwick Boseman, the regal actor who embodied a long-held dream of African American moviegoers as the star of the groundbreaking superhero film “Black Panther,” died Friday. He was 43.

A statement posted on Boseman’s Instagram account said the actor had learned in 2016 that he had stage 3 colon cancer, and that it had progressed to stage 4. His publicist confirmed that he died in his home in Los Angeles, with his wife, Taylor Simone Ledward, and family by his side.

“A true fighter, Chadwick persevered through it all, and brought you many of the films you have come to love so much,” the statement said. “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.”

Boseman was a private figure by Hollywood standards. He found fame relatively late as an actor — he was 35 when he appeared in his first prominent role, as Jackie Robinson in “42” — but made up for lost time with a string of star-making performances in major biopics.

Whether it was James Brown in “Get On Up,” Thurgood Marshall in “Marshall” or T’Challa in “Black Panther,” Boseman’s unfussy versatility and old-fashioned gravitas helped turn him into one of his generation’s most sought-after leading men.

Boseman had admired T’Challa and Marvel’s “Black Panther” comics since attending Howard University, where he worked at an African bookstore as an undergraduate.

When the opportunity came to bring the character to the big screen, Boseman embraced the role’s symbolic significance to Black audiences with a statesman’s pride and devotion. He lobbied for the characters to speak in authentic South African accents, and led on-set cast discussions about ancient African symbolism and spirituality.




The film was a cultural sensation — the first major superhero movie with an African protagonist and the first to star a majority Black cast. It was near universally praised by critics for its thematic heft and array of dynamic performances from Lupita Nyong’o, Michael B. Jordan, Angela Bassett and others.

The fervor helped make “Black Panther” one of the highest-grossing movies of all time, with more than $1.3 billion in earnings globally. Its success represented a moment of hope, pride and empowerment for Black moviegoers around the world. And it marked an inflection point in Hollywood, where decades of discrimination against Black-led films gave way to a new era of increased visibility and opportunity for Black artists.

Chadwick Aaron Boseman was born on Nov. 29, 1976, in the small city of Anderson, South Carolina, the youngest of three boys. His mother, Carolyn, was a nurse and his father, Leroy, worked for an agricultural conglomerate and had a side business as an upholsterer.

Boseman enrolled at Howard University with the dream of becoming a director.

While taking an acting class there with the Tony Award-winning actress and director Phylicia Rashad, Boseman and his classmates were accepted to the British American Drama Academy in Oxford. The students couldn’t afford the trip, but Rashad helped finance it with assistance from a friend and future colleague of Boseman’s: Denzel Washington.

After graduating, Boseman moved to New York to work in theater. He wrote and directed several plays, including “Deep Azure” and “Hieroglyphic Graffiti,” many of which were infused with the grammar of hip-hop and pan-African theology. He lived in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn and earned money by teaching acting to students at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem.

A recurring role in the 2007-09 ABC Family series “Lincoln Heights” brought Boseman to Los Angeles.


© 2020 The New York Times Company










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