New York Times: Chadwick Boseman, the actor who found fame as the star of the groundbreaking film “Black Panther” and who also portrayed pioneering Black figures such as Jackie Robinson, James Brown and Thurgood Marshall, died on Friday. He was 43.
A statement posted on Mr. Boseman’s Instagram account said the actor learned in 2016 that he had Stage 3 colon cancer, which had progressed to Stage 4. It said he died in his home, with his wife 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.”
News of Mr. Boseman’s death elicited shock and grief among many prominent figures in the arts and civic life. Martin Luther King III, a human-rights activist and the eldest son of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., said that the actor had “brought history to life on the silver screen” in his portrayals of Black leaders.
The film represented a moment of hope, pride and empowerment for African-American moviegoers, many of whom planned special outings to see it and came dressed in African-inspired clothing and accessories.
Wakanda was powered by a mystery metal, vibranium, and had evaded the historical traumas endured by much of the rest of Africa, freeing it from the ravages of colonialism and postcolonialism. The phrase “Wakanda forever” became a hashtag and rallying cry.
The statement on Mr. Boseman’s Instagram account said it was “the honor of his career to bring King T’Challa to life in ‘Black Panther.’”
Mr. Boseman was born and raised in Anderson, S.C., 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.
“I saw him work a lot of third shifts, a lot of night shifts,” Mr. Boseman told The New York Times last year. “Whenever I work a particularly hard week, I think of him.”
His closest role models were his two brothers: Derrick, the eldest, a preacher in Tennessee; and Kevin, a dancer who has performed with the Martha Graham and Alvin Ailey troupes and toured with the stage adaptation of “The Lion King.”
In high school, Mr. Boseman was a serious basketball player but turned to storytelling after a friend and teammate was shot and killed. Mr. Boseman processed his emotions by writing what he eventually realized was a play. When it was time to consider colleges, he chose an arts program at Howard University, with a dream of becoming a director.
At Howard, he took an acting class with the Tony Award-winning actress and director Phylicia Rashad, who helped him get into an elite theater program at the University of Oxford, an adventure he later learned had been financed by a friend of hers: Denzel Washington.
To earn money, Mr. Boseman taught acting to students at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem.
After college, he moved to the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, where he spent his days in coffee shops — playing chess and writing plays to direct, some of which were influenced by hip-hop and pan-African theology.
He landed one-off television roles in “Law & Order,” “CSI: NY” and “Cold Case,” and eventually booked a recurring role in the 2007-9 ABC Family series “Lincoln Heights.”
The show filmed in Los Angeles and afforded Boseman his first real taste of Hollywood.
“Before that, I had just wanted to be an artist in New York,” Mr. Boseman said. “I didn’t understand that coming to L.A. and trying to be a film actor was a completely different thing.”