Chadwick Boseman, who was the star of the enormously successful Marvel film Black Panther, has died of colon cancer at age 43.
He kept his diagnosis and four-year struggle against the disease quiet from the public. Boseman died Friday at home in Los Angeles with his wife and family present, according to his publicist.
Boseman also played the roles of baseball icon Jackie Robinson and music superstar James Brown during his career. But his role as the Black Panther, the king of the mythical African land of Wakanda, took his stardom to the stratosphere.
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 in the statement. “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.”
Kevin Feige, President, Marvel Studios and Chief Creative Officer, Marvel, called Boseman’s passing “absolutely devastating. He was our T’Challa, our Black Panther, and our dear friend. Each time he stepped on set, he radiated charisma and joy, and each time he appeared on screen, he created something truly indelible.
“He embodied a lot of amazing people in his work, and nobody was better at bringing great men to life. He was as smart and kind and powerful and strong as any person he portrayed. Now he takes his place alongside them as an icon for the ages. The Marvel Studios family deeply mourns his loss, and we are grieving tonight with his family.”
Disney’s Bob Iger also issued a statement mourning Boseman.
“We are all heartbroken by the tragic loss of Chadwick Boseman — an extraordinary talent, and one of the most gentle and giving souls I have ever met. He brought enormous strength, dignity and depth to his groundbreaking role of Black Panther; shattering myths and stereotypes, becoming a long-awaited hero to millions around the world, and inspiring us all to dream bigger and demand more than the status quo.
“We mourn all that he was, as well as everything he was destined to become. For his friends and millions of fans, his absence from the screen is only eclipsed by his absence from our lives. All of us at Disney send our prayers and heartfelt condolences to his family.”
Boseman was born and raised in Anderson, SC, and later attended Howard University. He graduated in 2000 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Directing. He then attended drama school in London before returning to the U.S.
He moved to Los Angeles in 2008 to pursue acting. His first TV role came in 2003, an episode of Third Watch. He went on to appear in such series as Law & Order, CSI: NY and ER. In 2008, he played a recurring role on the series Lincoln Heights, and appeared in his first film, The Express: The Ernie Davis Story.
Boseman’s first starring film role came in 42, the film bio of baseball pioneer Jackie Robinson, the first Black player in Major League Baseball. The role came just as he was considering moving to directing as his full-time career focus.