Actor Chadwick Boseman, who played black icons Jackie Robinson and James Brown before becoming famous as the Black Panther in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, died on Friday of cancer, his representative said. He was 43 years old.
Boseman died at his home in the Los Angeles area with his wife and family by his side, his publicist Nicki Fioravante told The Associated Press.
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,” his family said in the statement. “From Marshall to Da 5 Bloods, August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, and several more, all were all filmed during and between countless surgeries and chemotherapy. It was the honor of his career to bring King T’Challa to life in Black Panther.”
Boseman had not spoken publicly about his diagnosis.
Born in South Carolina, Boseman graduated from Howard University and had small television roles before his first starring role in 2013. His surprising portrayal of the stoic star Robinson opposite Harrison Ford in 2013’s film 42 drew attention in Hollywood.
Boseman passed away on the same day Major League Baseball celebrated Jackie Robinson Day.
His character T’Challa first appeared in Marvel’s blockbuster movies in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War, and his “Wakanda Forever” salute reverberated around the world following the release of Black Panther two years ago.
“This is a crushing blow,” actor and director Jordan Peele said on Twitter, one of many who expressed shock as the news spread on social media.
“This broke me,” said actress and writer Issa Rae.