Actor Chadwick Boseman, who played black icons Jackie Robinson and James Brown before finding fame as the regal Black Panther in the Marvel cinematic universe, has died of cancer, his representative said. He was 43.
Boseman died at his home in the Los Angeles area with his wife and family by his side, his publicist Nicki Fioravante said on Friday.
Boseman was diagnosed with colon cancer four years ago, his family said in a statement.
“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.
“From Marshall to Da 5 Bloods, August Wilsons Ma Raineys Black Bottom and several more – all were filmed during and between countless surgeries and chemotherapy. It was the honour of his career to bring King TChalla to life in Black Panther.”
Boseman had not spoken publicly about his diagnosis. It is believed he married his long-term partner, the singer Taylor Simone Ledward, earlier this year. The couple had no children.
Boseman paid tribute to Ledward in his acceptance speech at the 2019 NAACP Image Awards in Los Angeles, where he won the trophy for outstanding actor in a motion picture. He said: “Simone, you’re with me every day. I have to acknowledge you right now. Love you.”
Born in South Carolina, Boseman graduated from Howard University and had small roles in television before his first star turn in 2013. His striking portrayal of the stoic baseball star Robinson opposite Harrison Ford in 2013’s 42 drew attention in Hollywood.
Boseman died on a day that major league baseball was celebrating Jackie Robinson day.
“This is a crushing blow,” actor and director Jordan Peele said on Twitter, one of many expressing shock as the news spread across social media.
Mark Ruffalo, who starred alongside Boseman in the Marvel films, playing Hulk said it was an honour working with Boseman.
“All I have to say is the tragedies amassing this year have only been made more profound by the loss of Chadwick Boseman,” he said. “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.”