Chadwick Boseman: Story and History
Published: 10:34 AM, 29 August 2020 Updated: 02:40 PM, 10 October 2020
Chadwick Boseman. Photo: Collected
Black Panther' actor Chadwick Boseman dies aged 43 after a four-year battle with colon cancer - as his wife and family pay tribute to 'a true fighter' and Marvel co-star Chris Evans says 'Rest in power, King'
Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman has died after a private four-year battle with colon cancer, his family said in a statement on Friday. He was 43.
The actor passed away at his home in the Los Angeles area with his wife and family by his side. They did not specify when he died.
'It is with immeasurable grief that we confirm the passing of Chadwick Boseman. Chadwick was diagnosed with stage III colon cancer in 2016, and battled with it these last 4 years as it progressed to stage IV,' the family said.
The actor also played other groundbreaking figures, like James Brown and Thurgood Marshall; Actor Chadwick Boseman, who rose to screen prominence as the star of "Black Panther," has died.
Boseman had been battling cancer since 2016, according to the actor's Twitter account. His publicist confirmed his death.
"It is with immeasurable grief that we confirm the passing of Chadwick Boseman," a statement said on the actor's official Twitter account. "Chadwick was diagnosed with stage III colon cancer in 2016 and battled with it these last four years as it progressed to stage IV."
“A true fighter, Chadwick persevered through it all, and brought you many of the films you have come to love so much," the statement continued. "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.”
Boseman's first starring role in film came as Cleveland Browns running back Ernie Davis in "The Express: The Ernie Davis Story" in 2008. He gained more plaudits as the star of another sports biography in 2013, this time playing barrier-breaking baseball player Jackie Robinson in "42." MLB celebrated Jackie Robinson Day on Friday.
But Boseman found his biggest box office success and worldwide star status as King T'Challa, the titular superhero Black Panther, in the Marvel film series. He made his first appearance as the character in "Captain America: Civil War" in 2016 before starring in his own standalone film two years later.
"Black Panther" was released in 2018 and smashed records with a box office total of more than $1.3 billion. It was also nominated for best picture at the Academy Awards, almost unheard of for a so-called superhero movie, and won Oscars for best costume design, best production design and best original score.
The movie won best outstanding performance by a cast in a motion picture at the 2019 Screen Actors Guild Awards.
In the message announcing his death, the statement said, "It was the honor of his life to bring King T'Challa to life in Black Panther."
Birth and beginning
Boseman was born and raised in Anderson, South Carolina, to Carolyn and Leroy Boseman, both African American. According to Boseman, DNA testing has indicated that his ancestors were Krio people from Sierra Leone, Yoruba people from Nigeria and Limba people from Sierra Leone. His mother was a nurse and his father worked at a textile factory, managing an upholstery business as well. Boseman graduated from T. L. Hanna High School in 1995. In his junior year, he wrote his first play, Crossroads, and staged it at the school after a classmate was shot and killed.
Boseman attended college at Howard University in Washington, D.C., graduating in 2000 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in directing. One of his teachers was Phylicia Rashad, who became a mentor. She helped raise funds so that Boseman and some classmates could attend the Oxford Mid-Summer Program of the British American Drama Academy in London, to which they had been accepted.
Boseman wanted to write and direct and initially began studying acting to learn how to relate to actors. After he returned to the U.S., he graduated from New York City's Digital Film Academy.
He lived in Brooklyn at the start of his career. Boseman worked as the drama instructor in the Schomburg Junior Scholars Program, housed at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem, New York. In 2008, he moved to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career.
Career and achievements
Boseman at the Deauville Film Festival in September 2014
Boseman got his first television role in 2003, in an episode of Third Watch. His early work included episodes of the series Law & Order, CSI:NY, and ER. He also continued to write plays, with his script for Deep Azure performed at the Congo Square Theatre Company in Chicago; it was nominated for a 2006 Joseph Jefferson Award for New Work. In 2008, he played a recurring role on the television series Lincoln Heights and appeared in his first feature film, The Express: The Ernie Davis Story. He landed a regular role in 2010 in another television series, Persons Unknown.
Boseman had his first starring role in the 2013 film 42, in which he portrayed baseball pioneer and star Jackie Robinson. He had been directing an off-Broadway play in East Village when he auditioned for the role, and was considering giving up acting and pursuing directing full-time at the time. About 25 other actors had been seriously considered for the role, but director Brian Helgeland liked Boseman's bravery and cast him after he had auditioned twice. In 2013, Boseman also starred in the indie film The Kill Hole, which was released in theaters a few weeks before the film 42.
In 2014, Boseman appeared opposite Kevin Costner in Draft Day, in which he played an NFL draft prospect. Later that year, he starred as James Brown in Get on Up. In 2016, he starred as Thoth, a deity from Egyptian mythology, in Gods of Egypt.
In 2016 he started portraying the Marvel Comics character T'Challa / Black Panther, with Captain America: Civil War being his first film in a five-picture deal with Marvel. He headlined Black Panther in 2018, which focused on his character and his home country of Wakanda in Africa. The film opened to great anticipation, becoming one of the highest-grossing films of the year in the United States. He reprised the role in both Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, which were released in 2018 and 2019, respectively. Both films were the highest-grossing of the year they were released, with Endgame going on to become the highest-grossing film of all time. In the same year 2019 he starred in 21 Bridges, an American action thriller film directed by Brian Kirk, as an NYPD detective who shuts down the eponymous 21 bridges of Manhattan to find two suspected cop killers.
In 2019, it was announced that Boseman was cast in the Netflix war drama film Da 5 Bloods, directed by Spike Lee. The film was released on June 12, 2020.
Personal life and death
Boseman was raised a Christian and was baptized. Boseman was part of a church choir and youth group and his former pastor said that he still keeps his faith. Boseman has stated that he prayed to be the Black Panther before he was cast as the character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
He was a vegetarian
Health decline and death
Boseman was diagnosed with stage III colon cancer in 2016, which eventually progressed to stage IV before 2020. Boseman had not spoken publicly about his battle with cancer until news of his death was released on August 28, 2020. During treatment (multiple surgeries and chemotherapy) he continued to work and completed filming for several films, including Marshall, Da 5 Bloods, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom and others.
Boseman died of complications related to his four-year battle with colon cancer at his home on August 28, 2020, with his wife and family by his side. An official statement on his social media accounts said, "It was the honor of his career to bring King T'Challa to life in Black Panther.
Following the shock news of his death, tributes to Boseman poured in from across the entertainment industry on social media.
Marvel Studios released a statement on his passing on Twitter saying: 'Our hearts are broken and our thoughts are with Chadwick Boseman's family. Your legacy will live on forever. Rest In Peace.'
'This is a crushing blow' actor and director Jordan Peele said on Twitter. 'This broke me,' said actor and writer Issa Rae.
'Such a brutal loss. RIP, Chadwick,' Ryan Reynolds tweeted.
Co-star Lupito Nyongo wrote on Instagram about Boseman following the blockbuster's opening in 2018, saying, "I admire your quiet, confident, regal nature. You brought the wealth of all your knowledge, wisdom and physicality to T'Challa. You led us into the land of Wakanda without ego, without pretense, without fear."
Boseman would appear in "Avengers: Infinity War" and "Avengers: Endgame" as the character as well.
"Our hearts are broken and our thoughts are with Chadwick Boseman’s family," Marvel Studios wrote in a statement on Twitter. "Your legacy will live on forever. Rest in Peace."
His Marvel co-stars Don Cheadle and Mark Ruffalo each shared condolences on Twitter.
"I will miss you, my birthday brother. you were always light and love to me. my god," Cheadle, who plays War Machine, tweeted.
"All I have to say is the tragedies amassing this year have only been made more profound by the loss of #ChadwickBoseman," Ruffalo, who plays the Hulk in "The Avengers," wrote. "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."
Starting with Davis and Robinson, Boseman developed a reputation for playing towering real-life figures, including singer James Brown in 2014's "Get on Up" and Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall in the 2017 film "Marshall."
Boseman produced and starred in "21 Bridges" last year and he was in Spike Lee's Netflix film "Da 5 Bloods" released earlier this year.
The actor was born in Anderson, South Carolina, and went to college at Howard University in Washington, D.C., where he graduated with a bachelor's degree in directing. The historically Black college released its own statement memorializing Boseman.
"It is with profound sadness that we mourn the loss of alumnus Chadwick Boseman who passed away this evening," Howard President Wayne A. I. Frederick wrote. "His incredible talent will forever be immortalized through his characters and through his own personal journey from student to superhero! Rest in Power!"
Democratic vice-presidential candidate Kamala Harris, also a Howard graduate, shared a photo of the two on Twitter and expressed her condolences. His final tweet, on Aug. 11, celebrated her being named Joe Biden's running mate.
"My friend and fellow Bison Chadwick Boseman was brilliant, kind, learned, and humble," she wrote. "He left too early but his life made a difference. Sending my sincere condolences to his family."