‘Black Panther’ Star, Dies at 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’s passing is absolutely devastating,” said Kevin Feige, president of Marvel Studios and chief creative officer of Marvel, in a statement. “He was our T’Challa, our Black Panther, and our dear friend. Each time he stepped on set, he radiated charisma and joy, and each time he appeared on screen, he created something truly indelible.
He embodied a lot of amazing people in his work, and nobody was better at bringing great men to life. He was as smart and kind and powerful and strong as any person he portrayed. Now he takes his place alongside them as an icon for the ages. The Marvel Studios family deeply mourns his loss, and we are grieving tonight with his family.”
Walt Disney Co. chairman Bob Iger said, “We are all heartbroken by the tragic loss of Chadwick Boseman — an extraordinary talent, and one of the most gentle and giving souls I have ever met. He brought enormous strength, dignity and depth to his groundbreaking role of Black Panther; shattering myths and stereotypes, becoming a long-awaited hero to millions around the world, and inspiring us all to dream bigger and demand more than the status quo.
We mourn all that he was, as well as everything he was destined to become. For his friends and millions of fans, his absence from the screen is only eclipsed by his absence from our lives. All of us at Disney send our prayers and heartfelt condolences to his family.”
Although Boseman never spoke publicly about his diagnosis, according to 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 Spike Lee’s Vietnam War drama “Da 5 Bloods,” and this year he’s due to appear opposite in 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, S.C., by his mother, who worked as a nurse, and father, who worked in a textile factory. 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.
After moving to New York, Boseman was a part of the local theater scene, and began landing guest roles on shows like “Law & Order,” “CSI: NY” and “ER,” as well as a series regular part on the NBC mystery “Persons Unknown.” Boseman’s first big break, however, came when he was cast in “42” to play Jackie Robinson, the first Black man to play in Major League Baseball.
Poignantly, Boseman’s death is on the same day as Jackie Robinson Day, MLB’s annual celebration of the pioneering player.
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.
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