‘Black Panther’ star Chadwick Boseman dies aged 43 after private four-year battle with colon cancer … wife and family pay tribute to ‘a true fighter’

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Karen Ruiz, DailyMail, AP

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.

“A true fighter, Chadwick persevered through it all, and brought you many of the films you have come to love so much.”

The family revealed several of Boseman’s recent films, including Marshall, Da 5 Bloods, and August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, were filmed “during and between countless surgeries and chemotherapy”.

Boseman’s most memorable role was his 2018 performance as T’Challa, king of the fictional African kingdom of Wakanda and the crime fighter known as Black Panther, in the first major studio superhero movie featuring a predominantly African-American cast.

Chadwick family statement

WHAT IS COLON CANCER?

Colon cancer is a cancer of the large intestine (the colon).

Usually, it starts with polyps, which are small clumps of cells.

Gastroenterologists can see them in a colonoscopy because they are raised off the surface of the colon like a mole.

Symptoms include:

Blood in your stool or rectal bleeding

Stomach cramps

Persistant gas

Never feeling like you have emptied your bowels

Exhaustion

Weight loss

Change in bowel habits that persists for more than a month

People with stage 1 tumours have a survival rate (living five years or more) of 80-95 percent.

At stage 2, the survival rate is 55 to 80 percent.

At stage 3, it’s about 40 percent, and at stage 4 it’s about 10 percent.

“It was the honour of his career to bring King T’Challa to life in Black Panther,” the statement said. “The family thanks you for your love and prayers, and asks that you continue to respect their privacy during this difficult time.”

Boseman is survived by his wife Taylor Simone Ledward and a parent and had no children, his publicist said. The actor had kept his diagnosis and much of his personal life under wraps.

He had been reported to be dating Ledward after the pair were spotted together on the red carpet at the 2019 SAG awards, but his marriage was not reported until his death.

The couple was last seen together in February at the 69th NBA All-Star Game in Chicago.

Boseman had not spoken publicly about his cancer diagnosis but had sparked concerns over his health earlier this year after fans took note of his unusually thin appearance.

Born in South Carolina the son of a nurse and an upholstery entrepreneur, Boseman graduated from Howard University and had small roles in television before his first star turn in 2013. He has roots in the West African country Sierra Leone.

The actor had been known for playing real-life figures, including professional baseball player Jackie Robinson in 2013 biopic, 42, James Brown in 2014’s Get On Up, and Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall in 2017’s Marshall.

But his most memorable role was his 2018 performance as T’Challa, king of the fictional African kingdom of Wakanda and the crime fighter known as Black Panther, in the first major studio superhero movie featuring a predominantly African-American cast.

Chadwick Boseman starred alongside Zimbabwean Danai Gurira in Black Panther. Credit

The film went on to become one of the highest-grossing films of the year and was nominated for six Oscars, including best picture. It won three Academy Awards – in the best original score, best costume design and best production design categories.

Boseman originated the Black Panther film role two years earlier in Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War, and reprised the part twice more in 2018’s Avengers: Infinity War and 2019’s Avengers: Endgame.

He shrugged off doubters who tried to convince him not to give the superhero an African accent, saying: “There was a time period where people would ask me questions about whether or not an audience could sit through a movie with a lead character that spoke with that accent. I became adamant about the fact that it’s not true.”

News of Boseman’s death came on the day that Major League Baseball was celebrating Jackie Robinson Day.

The holiday is usually observed on April 15, but the celebration was moved to August 28 to accommodate the Covid-19-altered schedule.

Boseman had shared an Instagram post at the time saying he was celebrating with the launch of Operation 42, an initiative donating $4.2 million in personal protective equipment to hospitals servicing African American communities at the peak of the pandemic.

“Thank you, Jackie, for refusing to accept the world as it is, for showing us that we can make a difference,” Boseman said.

The post, which included a video of the actor wearing a ’42’ baseball cap, had sparked concerns among fans who pointed out that he had grown noticeably thin.

In June, Boseman joined more than 300 black actors and filmmakers who signed an open letter urging Hollywood to steer away from entertainment glorifying police brutality and corruption and to invest in anti-racist content.

The letter was written in the midst of a cultural and political reckoning with systematic racism in the United States in the wake of the George Floyd death in Minneapolis.

Boseman was diagnosed with stage III colon cancer in 2016. But the actor never publicly discussed his condition and continued to work on major Hollywood films during his battle with the deadly disease.

The family revealed many of Boseman’s films, including Black Panther, Marshall, Da 5 Bloods, and August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, were filmed ‘during and between countless surgeries and chemotherapy.’

Boseman had not spoken about his diagnosis, but had sparked concerns over health earlier this year after fans took note of his unusually thin appearance.

Chadwick Boseman and wife Taylor Simone Ledward. Credit Getty Images

He became the first black superhero to get his own standalone film in the record-breaking Marvel franchise with 2018’s Black Panther.

Boseman first appeared as the character in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War when he joined Marvel and signed up to become part of the Marvel Universe franchise.

Sadly, not long after appearing in the film, he received his devastating diagnosis.

But that did not stop the star from appearing in multiple movies – despite film sets’ notoriously long shooting days and tough working schedules.

For his biggest role, Black Panther, the star trained rigorously to get in shape and learned Angolan capoeira, Dambe boxing, Zulu stick fighting, karate, kung-fu and jiu-jitsu for the role and its many fight scenes.

In March 2017, while shooting the movie, his co-star Andy Serkis described the gruelling big chase sequence, filmed in Busan, South Korea.

More than 700 crew members and 150 vehicles were gathered to film Boseman’s T’Challa pursue Serkis’ evil arms dealer Ulysses Klaue, who he brings down with a knee to the chest.

“It was a night shoot and the very, very first take he kneed me so hard in the chest, ’cause he couldn’t really see with his mask on,” Serkis recalled. “I felt like he had broken my ribs in that very first take.”

They shot the scene at least 30 times, according to Serkis, who said Boseman – who was still battling cancer at the time – gave incredible energy and performance each time.

When he wasn’t filming, the star also paid a visit to children’s hospital St Jude’s to visit children suffering from cancer – something he was sadly all too familiar with at the time.

Born in South Carolina, Boseman graduated from Howard University and had small roles in television before his first star turn in 2013. His striking portrayal of the stoic baseball star Jackie Robinson opposite Harrison Ford in 2013´s 42 drew attention in Hollywood and made him a star. He also starred in James Brown in 2014’s Get On Up the following year.

Boseman died on a day that Major League Baseball was celebrating Jackie Robinson day.

“His transcendent performance in 42 will stand the test of time and serve as a powerful vehicle to tell Jackie´s story to audiences for generations to come,” the league wrote in a tweet.

He first played Black Panther in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War, before the character headlined a hugely successful blockbuster in 2018.

The film’s vision of Afrofuturism and the technologically advanced civilization of Wakanda resonated with audiences, some of whom wore African attire to showings and helped propel Black Panther to more than $1.3 billion in global box office. It is the only Marvel Studios film to receive a best picture Oscar nomination.

The character was last seen standing silently dressed in a black suit at Tony Stark’s funeral in last year’s Avengers: Endgame. A Black Panther sequel had been announced, and was one of the studio’s most anticipated upcoming films.

In addition to Robinson and Brown, Boseman portrayed the future U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall in 2017’s Marshall. He humanised the larger-than-life historical figures with the same quiet dignity – interrupted by flashes of sparkling wit – that he would later bring to T’Challa.

He took on his first producing job in last year’s action thriller 21 Bridges, in which he also starred, and was last seen on-screen in Spike Lee´s film Da 5 Bloods as the leader of a group of Black soldiers in the Vietnam War.

It took some time for Boseman’s moment to come. He first got into theatre, acting and writing plays as an undergrad at Howard. Boseman had roles on TV shows like ABC Family´s Lincoln Heights and NBC´s Persons Unknown, but before 42 he had only acted in one film, 2008´s football drama The Express. Boseman attracted notice, but missed out on big parts.

“2011 was a rough year,” he said. “I was up for everything that was happening that year, really good roles. I would get down to the end and then it would go to someone else.”

Boseman completed one last performance, in an adaptation of August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. The Netflix film, in which Boseman stars alongside Viola Davis, finished shooting last summer.

Asked about his own childhood heroes and icons, Boseman cited black political leaders and musicians: Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr, Bob Marley, Public Enemy, A Tribe Called Quest and Prince. Deeply private and often guarded in his public appearances and interviews, he made clear that he understood the significance of his work and its impact on the broader culture.

Even at the outset of his Hollywood career, Boseman was clear-eyed about – and even skeptical of – the industry in which he would become an international star.

“You don’t have the same exact experience as a black actor as you do as a white actor. You don’t have the same opportunities. That’s evident and true,” he told AP while promoting 42.

“The best way to put it is: How often do you see a movie about a black hero who has a love story … he has a spirituality. He has an intellect. It’s weird to say it, but it doesn’t happen that often.”

He took on his first producing job in last year’s action thriller 21 Bridges, in which he also starred, and was last seen on-screen in Spike Lee’s film Da 5 Bloods as the leader of a group of Black soldiers in the Vietnam War.

Boseman completed one last performance, in an adaptation of August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.

The Netflix film, in which Boseman stars alongside Viola Davis, finished shooting last summer.

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 tweeted.

“This broke me,” said actor and writer Issa Rae.

Marvel co-star Chris Evans paid tribute to his friend in a poignant tweet saying: “I’m absolutely devastated. This is beyond heartbreaking. Chadwick was special. A true original.

“He was a deeply committed and constantly curious artist. He had so much amazing work still left to create. I’m endlessly grateful for our friendship. Rest in power, King.”

Marvel stars Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Chris Pratt, Brie Larson and Don Cheadle also paid tribute.

Alongside a picture of them together, Cheadle posted, “I will miss you, birthday brother. You were always light and love to me. My God… forever and ever …’

In his tribute, Marvel chief Kevin Feige, the mastermind behind the extraordinarily successful Marvel Cinematic Universe, called Chadwick’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,” Feige said.

“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.”

Chadwick Boseman and wife Taylor Simone Ledward at the 69th NBA All-Star Game. Credit Getty Images

News of Chadwick Boseman’s death sent shockwaves through Hollywood on Friday after the actor had kept his four-year battle with stage III colon cancer private.

Tributes to Boseman poured in from across a reeling Hollywood, with many of his fellow Marvel stars including Chris Hemsworth, Brie Larson, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Chris Pratt, Don Cheadle, expressing grief and shock.

Joe Biden, the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee, praised Boseman’s impact, saying his portrayal of Black Panther ‘inspired generations.’

Biden added he and wife Jill were praying for Boseman’s loved ones. His running mate, Kamala Harris, also paid tribute.

Boseman’s final tweet and Instagram post was a picture of himself alongside Harris, congratulating her on the nomination. Harris on Friday shared a post paying tribute to her “brilliant, kind, humble” friend. –DailyMailOnline

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