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MEMORIAM

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Original Shaft star Richard Roundtree.

Richard Roundtree, action star known for 'Shaft,' 'Se7en,' 'Roots' miniseries, dies 

The actor died Tuesday following a brief battle with pancreatic cancer, his manager, Patrick McMinn, told ABC News. He was 81.

 

McMinn confirmed Roundtree's death to NBC News and said the actor's family was by his side. "Artists & Representatives Agency mourns the loss of our friend and client Richard Roundtree," McMinn said.

 

Roundtree previously survived breast cancer and was an advocate for breast cancer awareness among men.

As an actor, Roundtree was best known for playing John Shaft in Shaft (1971), the first film in the Shaft fran- chise, and its sequels Shaft's Big Score (1972) and Shaft in Africa (1973).

Shaft's success established Roundtree as the first Black action hero and helped launch a wave of major Hollywood films focused on Black protagonists. Roundtree later starred in Inchon, City Heat, Se7en and other films. His TV credits Sam Bennett in the Roots miniseries, Alias, Desperate Housewives and Being Mary Jane.

 

"Working with Richard Roundtree was a dream," Gabrielle Union, who co-starred with Roundtree on Being Mary Jane, said on social media. "He was always the coolest man in the room with the best vibes & ppl would literally run over to come see him. He was simply the best & we all loved him."

"The passing of Richard Roundtree is a real blow," Samuel L. Jackson, who worked with Roundtree on the Shaft sequel (2000), added. "Loved being around him, learning, working, laughing & feeling Blessed to have an idol live up to who I expected him to be!! Thanks for making us feel REAL GOOD about ourselves! Rest In Power."

Actor, comedian Scoey Mitchlll 

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Scoey Mitchlll

LOS ANGELES (CNS)—Comedian, actor, writer and television director Scoey Mitchlll has died, one week after his 92nd birthday, his family announced March 21.


Born Roscoe Mitchell Jr. on March 12, 1930, Mitchlll appeared on "The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour," "The Ed Sullivan Show," "The Joey Bishop Show," such game shows as "Match Game," "Tattletales" and "The Hollywood Squares."

 

Mitchlll had a recurring role on the CBS comedy "Rhoda" from 1974-76 and portrayed the father of Richard Pryor's character in the 1986 film,"

Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life Is Calling."

Mitchlll starred on ABC's short-lived adaptation of the Neil Simon play, "Barefoot in the Park," the first series to have a predominantly Black cast since "Amos 'n' Andy" ended its run in the mid-1950s.


According to his brother, jazz pianist Billy Mitchell, Mitchlll "was fired due to `differences of opinion' with the series' producers. What is rarely mentioned is that these differences were rooted in Scoey's attempt to get more Blacks in jobs behind the camera and as script writers."


Rather than recast the role, ABC canceled the low-rated series after 12 episodes.


Mitchlll's other television acting credits included the original "The Odd Couple," "The Six Million Dollar Ma" and "Baretta." Mitchlll was also a writer and director for the 1986-87 NBC comedy, "Me & Mrs. C." and directed episodes of the 1989-90 NBC comedy "13 East."


In addition to his brother, Mitchlll, who died March 19, is survived by his sister Mary Warren.

Cicely Tyson, groundbreaking icon, cinematic star

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Cicely Tyson

Film, theatre, television icon lauded for work spanning seven decades

LOS ANGELES—Groundbreaking actress Cicely Tyson, who cinematic career spanned more than seven decades, and which opened the doors for many Black women and men in Hollywood to follow, died Jan. 28, 2021. She was 96. Tyson was the recipient of three Primetime Emmy Awards, four Black Reel Awards, one Screen Actors Guild Award, one Tony Award, an honorary Academy Award, and a Peabody Award.

Having appeared in minor film and television roles early in her career, Tyson garnered widespread attention and critical acclaim for her performance as Rebecca Morgan in Sounder (1972); she was nominated for both the Academy Award and Golden Globe Award for Best Actress for her work in the film. Tyson's portrayal of the title role in the 1974 television film The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman won her further acclaim; among other accolades, the role won her two Emmy Awards and a nomination for a BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role.

Tyson continued to act in film and on television in the 21st century. In 2011, she played the role of Constantine Jefferson in the award-winning film The Help. She also played the role of Ophelia Harkness in American Broadcasting Company’s legal drama How to Get Away With Murder since the show's inception in 2014, for which she was nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series, five times.

In addition to her screen career, Tyson appeared in various theater productions. She received a Drama Desk Award in 1962 for her Off-Broadway performance in Moon on a Rainbow Shawl. Tyson also starred as Carrie Watts in the Broadway play The Trip to Bountiful, winning the Tony Award, the Outer Critics Award, and the Drama Desk Award for Best Actress in a Play in 2013. Tyson was named a Kennedy Center honoree in 2015. In November 2016, Tyson received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which is the highest civilian honor in the United States. In 2020, she was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame.

Tyson was born in Harlem on Dec. 19, 1924, the daughter of Frederica Tyson, a domestic worker, and William Augustine Tyson, who worked as a carpenter, painter, and at any other jobs he could find. Her parents were immigrants from Nevis in the West Indies. 

Actor Thomas ‘Tiny’ Lister succumbs

to COVID-19

Film star Tommy “Tiny” Lister, famous for playing intimidating, but lovable tough guys in films like “Friday,” died Dec. 10 from complications of Covid-19, according to his manager, Cindy Cowan.

Lister had been experiencing COVID symptoms in the days leading up to his death, Cowan told CNN. “Tiny began feeling sick a week ago, but he got worse quickly — couldn’t breathe and felt very weak,” she said.

Cowan added he was supposed to work on a movie set last weekend but had to cancel due to his breathing difficulties, and he also canceled a Zoom appearance for a TV festival, according to TMZ. Cowan said calls to check on him went unanswered.

According to TMZ, LA County sheriff’s performed a welfare check on the actor where they made their way into his apartment and found him deceased.

Most people knew Lister as the character Deebo from the “Friday” films featuring rapper/actor, Ice Cube.

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Tommy "Tiny" Lister

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