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Richard Roundtree Biography

Birth Name:
Richard Roundtree
Birth Place:
New Rochelle, New York, United States

Fast Facts

  • 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


  • 1972Golden Globe-New Star of the Year - Actor: nominated


  • John Roundtree Jr. -- Brother
  • Kelli Roundtree -- Daughter
  • Kelly -- Daughter
  • Morgan -- Daughter
  • Morgan Roundtree -- Daughter
  • Nicole -- Daughter
  • Tayler Roundtree -- Daughter
  • Tayler-Marie -- Daughter
  • Karen Ciernia -- Ex-wife
  • Mary Jane Grant -- Ex-wife
  • John J. Roundtree -- Father
  • Kathryn Roundtree -- Mother
  • Kathryn -- Sister
  • John James Roundtree -- Son
  • Karen Roundtree -- Wife