- Joined the Negro Ensemble Company Acting Workshop in 1967.
- Played private detective John Shaft in Shaft (1971), Shaft's Big Score (1972) and Shaft in Africa (1973), and in the TV crime drama Shaft (1973-74).
- Sidney Poitier wanted the lead role in Shaft, but wouldn't screen-test for it, so director Gordon Parks selected Roundtree as his star.
- Provided the voice of the title character in the video game Akuji the Heartless.
- In 1993, was diagnosed with a rare form of breast cancer that required a double mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiation treatments.
- His father, a Pentecostal minister, would not go to see his films until the son talked him into viewing 1996's Once Upon a Time...When We Were Colored.
- While trying to keep his cancer a secret during filming of a 1998 episode of Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, he convinced producers to let him wear a T-shirt in a scene as a topless bare-knuckle fighter, because otherwise it would expose the long surgical scar across his chest.
- Is a spokesman for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation and a men's health-care initiative called Know Your Score.
- 1972, Golden Globe — New Star of the Year - Actor: Nominee
- Morgan — Daughter
- John Roundtree Jr. — Brother
- John James Roundtree — Son
- Kathryn — Sister
- Nicole — Daughter
- Tayler-Marie — Daughter
- Kathryn Roundtree — Mother
- Karen Roundtree — Wife
- John J. Roundtree — Father
- Kelly — Daughter
- Attended Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, Illinois, United States
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