‘Black Pan­ther’ star Chad­wick Bose­man dies of can­cer at 43


LOS AN­GE­LES — Ac­tor Chad­wick Bose­man, who played Black icons Jackie Robin­son and James Brown with sear­ing in­ten­sity be­fore find­ing fame as the re­gal Black Pan­ther in the Mar­vel cin­e­matic uni­verse, died Fri­day of can­cer, his rep­re­sen­ta­tive said. He was 43.

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 so much,” his fam­ily 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. 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. He is sur­vived by his wife and a par­ent and had no chil­dren, Fio­ra­vante said.

Born in South Carolina, Bose­man grad­u­ated from Howard Uni­ver­sity and had small roles in television be­fore his first star turn in 2013. His strik­ing por­trayal of the stoic base­ball star Robin­son op­po­site Har­ri­son Ford in 2013’s “42” drew at­ten­tion in Hol­ly­wood and made him a star.

Bose­man died on a day that Ma­jor League Base­ball was cel­e­brat­ing Jackie Robin­son day. “His tran­scen­dent per­for­mance in ‘42’ will stand the test of time and serve as a pow­er­ful ve­hi­cle to tell Jackie’s story to au­di­ences for gen­er­a­tions to come,” the league wrote in a tweet.

His T’Challa char­ac­ter was first in­tro­duced to the block­buster Mar­vel movies in 2016’s “Cap­tain Amer­ica: Civil War,” and his “Wakanda For­ever” salute re­ver­ber­ated around the world af­ter the re­lease of “Black Pan­ther” two years ago.

The film’s vi­sion of Afro­fu­tur­ism and the tech­no­log­i­cally ad­vanced civ­i­liza­tion of Wakanda res­onated with au­di­ences, some of whom wore African at­tire to show­ings and helped pro­pel “Black Pan­ther” to more than $1.3 bil­lion in global box of­fice. It is the only Mar­vel Studios film to re­ceive a best pic­ture Os­car nom­i­na­tion.

The char­ac­ter was last seen stand­ing silently dressed in a black suit at Tony Stark’s fu­neral in last year’s “Avengers: Endgame.” A “Black Pan­ther” se­quel had been an­nounced, and was one of the stu­dio’s most an­tic­i­pated up­com­ing films.

In ad­di­tion to Robin­son and Brown, Bose­man por­trayed the fu­ture U.S. Supreme Court Jus­tice Thur­good Mar­shall in 2017’s “Mar­shall.” He hu­man­ized the larger-thanlife his­tor­i­cal fig­ures with the same quiet dig­nity — in­ter­rupted by flashes of sparkling wit — that he would later bring to T’Challa.

Asked about his own child­hood he­roes and icons, Bose­man cited Black po­lit­i­cal lead­ers and mu­si­cians: Mal­colm X, Martin Luther King Jr., Bob Mar­ley, Public En­emy, A Tribe Called Quest and Prince. Deeply pri­vate and of­ten guarded in his public ap­pear­ances and in­ter­views, he made clear that he un­der­stood the sig­nif­i­cance of his work and its im­pact on the broader cul­ture.

At the 2019 Screen Ac­tors Guild Award, “Black Pan­ther” won best en­sem­ble, elec­tri­fy­ing the room. Be­fore an au­di­to­rium full of ac­tors, Chad­wick Bose­man stepped to the mi­cro­phone. He quoted Nina Si­mone: “To be young, gifted and black,” then put the mo­ment in con­text.

“We know what it’s like to be told there isn’t a screen for you to be fea­tured on, a stage for you to be fea­tured on. … We know what’s like to be be­neath and not above. And that is what we went to work with ev­ery day,” said Bose­man. “We knew that we could cre­ate a world that ex­em­pli­fied a world we wanted to see. We knew that we had some­thing to give.”

Ac­tor Chad­wick Bose­man

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