Richard Roundtree, from Wikipedia

Richard Roundtree, from Wikipedia

Originally uploaded by Thomas Roche

Happy 66th birthday to Richard Roundtree. You might know him from his roles in “Roots,” Seven, “Earthquake, as the Police Commissioner in Maniac Cop, as the sleazy private eye on “Desperate Housewives” or as Ben Burns from the execrable Speed Racer, but he’ll always be John Shaft to me. The character of Shaft was the creation of Ernest Tidyman in a series of novels, making Tidyman, according to IMDB, one of the only white people ever to win a NAACP Image Award. Nonetheless, the pulpy character will forever be Richard Roundtree, and even in the 2000 remake Samuel Jackson needed RR to show up as Uncle John Shaft to pass the torch.

For years, Roundtree tried to distance himself from his image as a black action star, but eventually became proud of it, saying: “Number one, it put me on the map. To this day that film still works. I was blessed.”

Did you know Richard Roundtree survived breast cancer, and now speaks to men’s groups about early detection? Happy 66th, Roundtree, and many happy returns.

Image from Wikipedia


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