BREAKING NEWS: ‘Black Panther’ star Chadwick Boseman dead of cancer at 43

Actor Chadwick Boseman, who played Black icons Jackie Robinson and James Brown before finding fame as the regal Black Panther in the Marvel cinematic universe, died Friday after a four-year battle with colon cancer, his representative said. He was 43.

Boseman died at his home in the Los Angeles area with his wife and family by his side, his publicist Nicki Fioravante told The Associated Press.

Intensely private, he had managed to keep his illness secret since his 2016 diagnosis and even as it progressed to stage IV.

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

“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,” the family statement said of Boseman’s star turn as the titular superhero in the 2018 blockbuster.

Boseman had not spoken publicly about his diagnosis.

But concern had poured out from his wide fan base back in April, when he posted a video of himself on Instagram that revealed his alarming weight loss.

Despite his very evident waning health, Boseman had posted the video to announce the launch of “Operation 42,” an effort to raise money for personal protective equipment for hospitals that serve the African American communities hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic.

The “42” was a shout-out to baseball legend Robinson’s number — and to the 2013 bio-pic Boseman starred in, also named “42.”

Fans wondered if he had lost the weight intentionally, for a role.

He was slated at the time to appear in the upcoming TV sci-fi series “The Black Child,” as well as in “Black Panther II,” scheduled for release in 2022.

News of his passing brought an outpouring of love from across the country, with many marveling at his ability to star in movie after movie despite his private struggle against his illness.

“That this courageous man delivered these iconic performances while battling late stage cancer…eternally grateful to #ChadwickBoseman for portraying #ThurgoodMarshall w/dignity & T’Challa w/nobility & honor,” tweeted Sherrilyn Ifill, the president of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, which Marshall founded.

“Sending love & strength to the family on behalf of the @NAACP_LDF,” she added.

Others praised him for delivering performances that black children across the world could look up to.

“I keep thinking about my 3-year-old in his Black Panther costume. How he wore it almost every day when he got it, refused to take it off,” writer Clint Smith tweeted.

“The way he walked around saying ‘I’m the Black Panther.’ How happy it made him. What Chadwick gave us was immeasurable. What an enormous loss.”

Institutions including the NFL and the African American Policy Forum mourned Boseman’s death, with the Academy Awards describing it as “an immeasurable loss.”

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden noted that Boseman “inspired generations.”

“The true power of @ChadwickBoseman was bigger than anything we saw on screen,” Biden said.

“From the Black Panther to Jackie Robinson, he inspired generations and showed them they can be anything they want — even super heroes. Jill and I are praying for his loved ones at this difficult 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 Robinson opposite Harrison Ford in 2013′in “42” first drew the attention of Hollywood, and launched him toward fame.

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

His T’Challa character was first introduced to the Marvel movie series in 2016’s “Captain America: Civil War,” and his “Wakanda Forever” salute then reverberated around the world after the release of “Black Panther” two years ago.
The movie was a massive success, grossing $1.3 billion worldwide and taking home three Academy Awards.

“This is a crushing blow” actor and director Jordan Peele said on Twitter, one of many expressing shock as the news spread across social media.

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

About Akwasi Kesse

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