After a four year battle with colon cancer, “Black Panther” star Chadwick Boseman has passed away. Boseman was celebrated for his portrayal of historical African American figures like Jackie Robinson, James Brown and Thurgood Marshall as well as his depiction of the beloved King T’Challa of Wakanda within the Marvel Universe. The star was diagnosed with Stage 3 colon cancer in 2016, which progressed to Stage 4 over the last four years.
A legend lost
Born in South Carolina and residing in Los Angeles, Boseman passed away at his home with his wife and kids by his side. Although the announcement did not specify the date of his passing, it was posted on the same day that the Major Baseball League (MLB) celebrated Jackie Robinson Day, the icon who Boseman portrayed in the biopic film “42.”
Beginning his career on television shows like “Third Watch,” “Law & Order” and “ER,” Boseman made his feature film debut with a small role in “The Express: The Ernie Davis Story,” a 2008 sports biopic on college football hero Ernie Davis, the first Black player to win the Heisman trophy.
Boseman went on to star as other real-life characters known to break the barriers of racial injustice, such as singer James Brown in “Get on Up,” Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall in “Marshall,” and baseball icon Jackie Robinson in “42.” His last released work was in the Spike Lee movie “Da 5 Bloods,” as a soldier during the Vietnam War. Boseman’s final role was as musician Levee in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” which is set to be released posthumously.
There were speculations in 2019 of Boseman’s health after pictures of him surfaced on the web looking much slimmer, although many assumed it was for his role in “Da 5 Bloods.” Although the actor has starred in many movies which aim to profile racial struggles in the United States, the most popular performance of his career was as King T’Challa in “Black Panther,” which was the first major studio superhero movie with a predominantly African American cast and crew. Although his character had appeared in previous Marvel films like “Captain America: Civil War,” and later in “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Avengers: Endgame,” the cultural impact of “Black Panther” was palpable, as it was nominated for six Oscars and managed to bag three Academy Awards – for “Best Original Score,” “Best Costume Design,” and “Best Production Design.”
A segment featuring Boseman which aired on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” is undeniable evidence of the touching impact the actor had on his fans.
The announcement of the Boseman’s passing on Twitter has received more 7.5 million likes, making it the most liked tweet ever on the site. Many celebrities, co-stars, athletes and studios have expressed their condolences for the untimely death of the actor, who was all set to shoot for the “Black Panther” sequel once the pandemic was over. Marvel Studios released a nearly five-minute tribute video to the late actor, saying that Boseman “will always be our King.”
ABC also aired a tribute special on Sunday night, “Chadwick Boseman: A Tribute For A King.” After the tribute, a commercial-free airing of “Black Panther” was televised internationally. Following Boseman’s death, his films have charted on Apple iTunes, with “42” being at No. 3, “Black Panther” at No. 4, “Marshall” at No. 7 and “21 Bridges” at No. 12. In continued tribute to the actor’s untimely passing, AMC plans to rerelease “42” to more than 300 theaters. Currently, a petition is circling on Change.org to replace a Confederate monument in Boseman’s hometown with a Chadwick Boseman memorial.
After pictures and videos of Boseman looking slimmer were released online a couple of months ago, many mocked his skinny appearance, calling him “crack panther.” A fan posted thoughts on Facebook about those who were commenting mean things about Boseman when he posted that video, reminding people “to please not comment on people’s bodies, especially changes in their weight. You never know what’s going on in someone’s life, and barring that, it’s none of your damn business.” Daughter of the late Martin Luther King Jr., Bernice King, wrote on Twitter: “We never know what people are enduring. Humans… we are wonders. Thank you, Chadwick, for gifting us with your greatness in the midst of a painful struggle.”
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