Chadwick Boseman, star of “Black Panther,” died on Friday after a four year battle with colon cancer, his rep confirmed to Variety. He was 43.
Before he was cast as the Marvel Studios superhero, Boseman’s career first exploded with his portrayals of Black American icons Jackie Robinson (in 2013’s “42”) and James Brown (in 2014’s “Get on Up”).
“It is with immeasurable grief that we confirm the passing of Chadwick Boseman,” said a statement posted to his Twitter feed. “It was the honor of his life to bring King T’Challa to life in Black Panther.”
— Chadwick Boseman (@chadwickboseman) August 29, 2020
Although Boseman never spoke publicly about his diagnosis, according the statement, he worked through his treatment for much of his career, starting when he played another Black American icon, NAACP lawyer and future Supreme Court justice Thurgood Marshall, in 2017’s “Marshall” — a year before the premiere of “Black Panther.” Boseman most recently appeared in the Spike Lee’s Vietnam War drama “Da 5 Bloods,” and this year he’s due to appear opposite Viola Davis “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” a feature adaptation of the August Wilson play, directed by George C. Wolfe.
He was born the youngest of three boys and raised in Anderson, South Carolina, by his mother, who worked as a nurse, and father, who worked in a textile factory.
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When he was a junior in high school, Boseman wrote and staged a play about the shooting death of a basketball teammate, which turned his life towards the arts. He studied directing at Howard University, where he was mentored by Phylicia Rashad.
Reaction to Boseman’s death was swift and profound. Both Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, the Democratic candidates for president and vice president, expressed their condolences on Twitter.
Heartbroken. My friend and fellow Bison Chadwick Boseman was brilliant, kind, learned, and humble. He left too early but his life made a difference. Sending my sincere condolences to his family. pic.twitter.com/C5xGkUi9oZ
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) August 29, 2020
The true power of @ChadwickBoseman was bigger than anything we saw on screen. From the Black Panther to Jackie Robinson, he inspired generations and showed them they can be anything they want — even super heroes. Jill and I are praying for his loved ones at this difficult time.
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) August 29, 2020
Boseman is survived by his wife and family.