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Daytime Alum Richard Roundtree Dead at 81

Actor Richard Roundtree, best known for starring in the 1971 classic Shaft and its sequels, has died at the age of 81. He passed away on Oct. 24 from pancreatic cancer.

During his extensive career in film and television, Roundtree also had a couple of soap credits on his resume. From 1989-91 he played Dr. Daniel Reubens on the groundbreaking NBC sudser GENERATIONS. His TV daughter, Maya Reubens, was played by Vivica A. Fox. 

“My heart is sad this morning as late last night I learned that “legend” handsome actor Richard Roundtree has passed,” the actress shared on Instagram. “I had the blessing of working with Richard on a lot of firsts in my acting career. You will truly be missed as you were the first African-American action star, Shaft. I’ll never forget the time you stood for me when a director was being a jerk to me! I’ll miss your smile, jokes, laughs, and hugs! Rest easy, king! You did well!”

generations Cast photo
Roundtree joined his GENERATIONS co-stars in celebrating the soap’s 400th episode.Joseph Del Valle/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

From 2002-03, Roundtree returned to daytime to play Oliver Travers, father to Lamman Rucker’s Marshall Travers, on CBS soap AS THE WORLD TURNS. “Richard Roundtree,” Rucker posted to Instagram with a selfie he took with his former TV pop. “As cool as they come. Salute.”

Roundtree could also be seen in the classic television mini-series ROOTS as well as primetime shows like A DIFFERENT WORLD, MACGYVER, L.A. LAW, BEVERLY HILLS, 90210, ALIAS, and DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES. In addition to the Shaft series, the actor could be seen on the big screen in movies like City Heat, Se7en, Steel, and reprising his role as John Shaft in 2000’s Shaft starring Samuel L. Jackson.

He is survived by his four daughters and one son. Our thoughts are with his family and friends during this difficult time.

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