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.
“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.”
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:
Actor Octavia Spencer: “We’ve lost a great one. My heart is truly broken.”
Chris Evans, who played Captain America in multiple Marvel films:
I’m absolutely devastated. This is beyond heartbreaking.
Chadwick was special. A true original. He was a deeply committed and constantly curious artist. He had so much amazing work still left to create. I’m endlessly grateful for our friendship. Rest in power, King💙 pic.twitter.com/oBERXlw66Z
Mark Ruffalo, Boseman’s co-star in Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame:
All I have to say is the tragedies amassing this year have only been made more profound by the loss of #ChadwickBoseman. What a man, and what an immense talent. Brother, you were one of the all time greats and your greatness was only beginning. Lord love ya. Rest in power, King.
Samuel L. Jackson, co-star in Avengers: Endgame:
THANK YOU @chadwickboseman for all you gave us. We needed it & will always cherish it! A talented & giving artist & brother who will be sorely missed🙏🏿 RIP
Director and actor Jordan Peele:
U.S. vice-presidential nominee Kamala Harris, who, like Boseman, was a graduate of Howard University:
Heartbroken. My friend and fellow Bison Chadwick Boseman was brilliant, kind, learned, and humble. He left too early but his life made a difference. Sending my sincere condolences to his family. pic.twitter.com/C5xGkUi9oZ
Presidential candidate Joe Biden:
The true power of @ChadwickBoseman was bigger than anything we saw on screen. From the Black Panther to Jackie Robinson, he inspired generations and showed them they can be anything they want — even super heroes. Jill and I are praying for his loved ones at this difficult time.
Major League Baseball:
We are devastated by the tragic loss of Chadwick Boseman. 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. pic.twitter.com/8oU7QpdLSE
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:
I met you at the premier of 42 in Pittsburgh in 2013. Even though you were in the spotlight and all eyes were on you, I remember you saying, “I’m that one that’s starstruck by all of these athletes here.” That’s the man you were. Humble. You will be missed. RIP Chadwick Boseman pic.twitter.com/ypJc1yUq9p
Writer and actor Lena Waithe:
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences:
An immeasurable loss. From “Black Panther” to “Da 5 Bloods,” Chadwick Boseman brought strength and light to the screen, every time. pic.twitter.com/vRXxYU8Tbr
Former U.S. president Barack Obama:
Chadwick came to the White House to work with kids when he was playing Jackie Robinson. You could tell right away that he was blessed. To be young, gifted, and Black; to use that power to give them heroes to look up to; to do it all while in pain – what a use of his years. https://t.co/KazXV1e7l7