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Actor Chadwick Boseman, Who Played Jackie Robinson in '42' Movie, Dies at Age 43

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorAugust 29, 2020

Chadwick Boseman, who plays baseball legend Jackie Robinson in
Chris Pizzello/Associated Press

Chadwick Boseman, who portrayed former Brooklyn Dodgers legend Jackie Robinson in 42 and Black Panther in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, died at age 43 from stage 4 colon cancer Friday.

An announcement was made on Boseman's official Twitter account:

Chadwick Boseman @chadwickboseman

https://t.co/aZ2JzDf5ai

Boseman was diagnosed with cancer in 2016 but had acted in numerous films since then, including Black Panther, Marshall and Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, which is in post-production.

He appeared in four MCU films overall, beginning with Captain America: Civil War in 2016 and ending with Avengers: Endgame in 2019.

Boseman also won an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture for his role in Black Panther and accepted a SAG Award along with the rest of the film's cast for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture.

The Howard University graduate broke into television in 2003 by appearing in an episode of Third Watch. He made appearances on Law and Order, CSI: NY, ER and Cold Case from 2004 to 2008.

His first cinematic appearance came in 2008 when he played ex-Syracuse running back Floyd Little in The Express: The Ernie Davis Story. The movie centered around the life of former Syracuse football star Ernie Davis, the first Black man to win the Heisman Trophy. Little followed in Davis' footsteps in the Syracuse backfield.

Most recently, Boseman starred in Spike Lee's Da 5 Bloods as well as 21 Bridges.

Boseman had made public appearances in 2020, judging the NBA's Slam Dunk Contest and sitting courtside for the All-Star Game with his wife, singer Taylor Simone Ledward.

On April 15 (Jackie Robinson Day), Boseman announced his role in Operation 42, which provided funds to hospitals serving Black communities during the COVID-19 pandemic:

Chadwick Boseman @chadwickboseman

Throwing it back to the ultimate game changer. Thank you to my friend Thomas Tull for launching #Operation42 to celebrate #JackieRobinsonDay and deliver $4.2M in masks and vital personal protective equipment to hospitals in African American communities devastated by #Covid19. https://t.co/GNt6LE07Li

Boseman had also spoken out against systemic racism in recent months in support of organizations fighting for social justice:

Chadwick Boseman @chadwickboseman

Lift up/amplify Black voices. Support Black owned businesses. Reach back. Mentor. Take action through causes & orgs like @blklivesmatter @naacp @bailproject @whenweallvote & @colorofchange. 155 years later, let’s try to learn from our past to create a better future. #Juneteenth

Chadwick Boseman @chadwickboseman

Read our letter and full list of demands at https://t.co/xpBWQ8Pblj.  #Hollywood4BlackLives #DefundThePolice https://t.co/P9nTRSxF1y

Numerous sports figures (among many other public figures) expressed their condolences upon hearing of Boseman's death:

DWade @DwyaneWade

Rest in Heaven 👑 https://t.co/3kDVUvdjEY

Megan Rapinoe @mPinoe

This is so incredibly sad. Rest in Power and in Peace Chadwick. 💔 https://t.co/iTQ8bibj3T

Patrick Mahomes II @PatrickMahomes

A Genuine Great person #RestInPeace 🙏🏽🙏🏽🙏🏽 https://t.co/HxXdpLtm0z

lindsey vonn @lindseyvonn

Gone too soon. This is so sad. 🙏🏻 RIP https://t.co/crHPXATr6D

Jayson Tatum @jaytatum0

RIP legend ❤️🙏🏽😓 https://t.co/j2yLUjzrVB

Chiney Ogwumike @Chiney321

treat people well because you never know what people are going through.. this man gave us his all without asking for anything in return.. in a time like now, he chose projects that would shift the narrative. his work changed the game for so many of us. it changed the culture. https://t.co/jQK5N2s5Si

Russell Wilson @DangeRussWilson

Wakanda Forever. 🙏🏾🙏🏾🙏🏾

andrew mccutchen @TheCUTCH22

I met you at the premier of 42 in Pittsburgh in 2013. Even though you were in the spotlight and all eyes were on you, I remember you saying, “I’m that one that’s starstruck by all of these athletes here.” That’s the man you were. Humble. You will be missed. RIP Chadwick Boseman https://t.co/ypJc1yUq9p

Boseman made a profound impact on millions of people, most notably children with terminal cancer diagnoses who wanted to see Black Panther. He discussed speaking with these kids in an emotional interview:

David Dennis Jr. @DavidDTSS

Chadwick Boseman getting emotional about trading letters with kids with terminal cancer who passed before they got to see Black Panther...knowing he was himself battling cancer when he said this. Jesus. https://t.co/o6l6hUjanU

Boseman's legacy will live forever, and his words should as well, with his comments to The Hollywood Reporter in 2018 resonating today.

"I hope people will watch this movie and see the hero in themselves," Boseman said. "Even if it's a white person who sees it, if they can see a Black character and identify with them, it changes a little bit about how our society is."

Black Panther earned $1.35 billion in its first run in the box office and was nominated for seven Academy Awards, winning three.

Boseman is survived by his wife and family, who were by his side at his death in his Los Angeles home.