Shock, grief and gratitude after death of actor Chadwick Boseman

August 29, 2020
Shock, grief and gratitude after death of actor Chadwick Boseman

First Chadwick Boseman slipped on the cleats of Jackie Robinson, then the Godfather of Soul’s dancing shoes, portraying both Black American icons with a searing intensity that commanded respect. When the former playwright suited up as Black Panther, he brought cool intellectual gravitas to the Marvel superhero whose “Wakanda forever!” salute reverberated worldwide.

As his Hollywood career boomed, though, Boseman was privately undergoing “countless surgeries and chemotherapy” to battle colon cancer, his family said in a statement announcing his death at age 43 on Friday. He’d been diagnosed at Stage 3 in 2016 but never spoke publicly about it.

Mercedes’ British driver Lewis Hamilton gestures in homage to late actor Chadwick Boseman, as he stands on his car after securing his 93rd pole position during the qualifying session at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit on Saturday ahead of the Belgian Formula One Grand Prix. (Francois Lenoir/AFP via Getty Images)

“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. “It was the honor of his career to bring King T’Challa to life in Black Panther.”

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.

Expressions of shock and despair poured in late Friday from fellow actors, athletes, musicians, Hollywood titans, fans and politicians. Here is a sampling of the tributes from around the entertainment world.

Actor Denzel Washington: “He was a gentle soul and a brilliant artist, who will stay with us for eternity through his iconic performances over his short yet illustrious career. God bless Chadwick Boseman.”

Viola Davis, co-star in Get on Up and the upcoming adaptation of August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom: “Chadwick … no words to express my devastation of losing you. Your talent, your spirit, your heart, your authenticity…. It was an honor working beside you, getting to know you…. Rest well prince…. May flights of angels sing thee to thy heavenly rest. I love you!”.

Angela Bassett, co-star in Black Panther: “During the premiere party for Black Panther, Chadwick reminded me of something. He whispered that when I received my honorary degree from Howard University, his alma mater, he was the student assigned to escort me that day. And here we were, years later as friends and colleagues, enjoying the most glorious night ever! We’d spent weeks prepping, working, sitting next to each other every morning in makeup chairs, preparing for the day together as mother and son. I am honored that we enjoyed that full circle experience. This young man’s dedication was awe-inspiring, his smile contagious, his talent unreal. So I pay tribute to a beautiful spirit, a consummate artist, a soulful brother … ‘thou aren’t not dead but flown afar…’. All you possessed, Chadwick, you freely gave. Rest now, sweet prince.”

Angela Bassett and Chadwick Boseman, who co-starred in Black Panther, speak onstage during the 25th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards in Los Angeles in January 2019. (Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Turner)

Black Panther co-star Sterling K. Brown: “I don’t have words. Rest In Peace, Bruh. Thank you for all you did while you were here. Thank you for being a friend. You are loved. You will be missed.” 

Marvel Studios: “Our hearts are broken and our thoughts are with Chadwick Boseman’s family. Your legacy will live on forever.”

WATCH | Chadwick Boseman speaks about the impact of Black Panther:

In this clip, the late actor breaks down his approach to acting and his iconic Black Panther role. 0:33

Actor Octavia Spencer: “We’ve lost a great one. My heart is truly broken.”

Chris Evans, who played Captain America in multiple Marvel films:

Mark Ruffalo, Boseman’s co-star in Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame:

Samuel L. Jackson, co-star in Avengers: Endgame:

Director and actor Jordan Peele:

U.S. vice-presidential nominee Kamala Harris, who, like Boseman, was a graduate of Howard University:

Presidential candidate Joe Biden:

Major League Baseball:

Actor and writer Issa Rae:

Actor Don Cheadle:

Actor Terry Crews:

Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Andrew McCutchen, a former National League Most Valuable Player when he played for Pittsburgh:

Writer and actor Lena Waithe:

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences:

Former U.S. president Barack Obama:

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