Chadwick Boseman, the actor who found fame as the star of “Black Panther” and who also portrayed pathbreaking Black figures such as Jackie Robinson, James Brown and Thurgood Marshall, died on Friday.
He was 43, his publicist, Nicki Fioravante, told The Associated Press. A statement posted on Mr. Boseman’s Instagram account said the actor had been diagnosed with Stage III colon cancer in 2016, which had progressed to Stage IV. It said he died in his home, with his wife and family by his side.
“It is with immeasurable grief that we confirm the passing of Chadwick Boseman,” the statement said.
“A true fighter, 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.”
Mr. Boseman was best known for his role as T’Challa, or the Black Panther, king of the fictional African nation of Wakanda in the 2018 Marvel superhero movie “Black Panther.”
The film was a cultural touchstone — the first major superhero movie with an African protagonist; the first to star a majority Black cast; and in Ryan Coogler, the first to employ a Black writer and director.
The film represented a moment of hope and pride for African-American moviegoers, many of whom planned special outings to see the film and came dressed in African-inspired clothing and accessories.
Wakanda was powered by a mystery metal, vibranium, and had evaded the historical traumas endured by much of the rest of Africa, freeing it from the ravages of both colonialism and postcolonialism.
The statement on Mr. Boseman’s Instagram account said it was “the honor of his career to bring King T’Challa to life in ‘Black Panther.’”
Mr. Boseman also portrayed the baseball icon Jackie Robinson in “42,” in 2013, the soul singer James Brown in “Get On Up,” in 2014, and the Supreme Court justice Thurgood Marshall in “Marshall,” in 2017.
Mr. Boseman was born and raised in Anderson, S.C., the youngest of three boys. His mother, Carolyn, was a nurse and hs father, Leroy, worked for an agricultural conglomerate and had a side business as an upholsterer.
“I saw him work a lot of third shifts, a lot of night shifts,” Mr. Boseman told The New York Times last year. “Whenever I work a particularly hard week, I think of him.”