Calling him “a true fighter,” Boseman’s family revealed the actor was diagnosed with colon cancer four years ago. He never made his diagnosis public, even after photos of the gaunt-looking actor appeared on social media.
“A true fighter, Chadwick persevered through it all, and brought you many of the films you have come to love so much,” read his family’s statement, which was posted on his Twitter and Instagram. “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.”
Boseman, who shared a Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Ensemble for Black Panther, credited Denzel Washington for his start in acting; Washington paid for Boseman's college tuition.
While he was best known for playing T’Challa in the Marvel Cinematic Universe installments Captain America: Civil War, Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, Boseman was equally at home in prestige films. He carved out a niche playing Black icons like Jackie Robinson (42), James Brown (Get on Up) and Thurgood Marshall (Marshall). His most recent role was in Spike Lee’s Netflix war movie Da 5 Bloods released in June. Boseman had also completed a film version of August Wilson’s stage drama Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom opposite Viola Davis slated for later this year.
The devastating news shook friends and fans — from Marvel co-stars to Joe Biden and Kamala Harris — who took to social media late Friday in an outpouring of grief, condolences and tributes: