Film News: Chadwick Boseman, Star of ‘Black Panther,’ Dies at 43

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LOS ANGELES – In another shocking piece of news in this year of 2020, the actor Chadwick Boseman, who embodied the Marvel superhero Black Panther in the film and universe, passed away on Aug. 28. He was known also for portraying black icons such as Jackie Robinson (“42”) and James Brown (“Get on Up”). He was only 43 years old.

Boseman was also a playwright, having written “Deep Azure” (2006) for the Congo Square Theatre Company in Chicago. After doing a number of TV roles in the 2000s, he broke through with his memorable performance as Jackie Robinson, and landed the role of T’Challa/Black Panther three years later in “Captain America: Civil War.” The stand alone film featuring Boseman as the hero premiered in 2018.

Chadwick Boseman in Chicago in 2017
Photo credit: Joe Arce of Starstruck Foto for

Chadwick Boseman was born in South Carolina, and graduated from Howard University in 2000, with a BFA in directing. Initially wanting to write and direct, he worked as a drama instructor in Harlem, before moving to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career. He appeared first on television in “Third Watch” in 2003, and in the same year portrayed Reggie Montgomery on the soap opera “All My Children” before being fired for complaining about the stereotype of the character. Ironically, he was replaced with his future “Black Panther” co-star, Michael B. Jordan.

After doing supporting roles in films (“The Express: The Ernie Davis Story”), he was stage directing in New York when the call came to audition for “42” (2013). Boseman’s sympathetic and courageous performance as Jackie Robinson was a cultural event, and got him other biographical roles as singer James Brown in “Get On Up” (2014) and Supreme Court justice Thurgood Marshall in “Marshall” (2017). He was also memorable in his latest role, as Vietnam soldier Norman Hollaway in Spike Lee’s “Da 5 Bloods” (2020).

But it was the unforgettable turn as T’Challa/Black Panther that uplifted Boseman to iconic status as an actor. The Marvel hero was an African King, who ruled the fictional Wakanda as a utopian black center for social and scientific reform. In the title film, Black Panther clashed with the American-based “Killmonger,” portrayed by Michael B. Jordan, and the story starkly defined the pride of African independence versus the American chains of racism. The film made 1.3 billion dollars at the box office as an unprecedented international success.

Chadwick Boseman had kept his diagnosis of Stage 3 colon cancer in 2016 a private matter, performing in this films between treatments (his final film, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” will be released posthumously). He succumbed to the disease at his home in Los Angeles. He is survived by his wife Taylor Simone Ledward.

Patrick McDonald of got to talk briefly with Chadwick Boseman during his red carpet appearance for “Marshall” at the 53rd Chicago International Film Festival.

Sources for the this article are from Chadwick Boseman, 1976-2020. For the full coverage of the Opening Night Red Carpet of “Marshall,” click here. senior staff writer Patrick McDonald

Editor and Film Writer

© 2020 Patrick McDonald,

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