Tributes paid to recently deceased US actor Chadwick Boseman

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Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Over the weekend, tributes were paid to US actor Chadwick Boseman, including Sunday's commercial-free airing of Black Panther and a special retrospective about Boseman entitled "A Tribute For a King" by American Broadcasting Company (ABC). Boseman died on Friday after being diagnosed with colon cancer four years earlier. Boseman, who rose to international fame for his title role in the 2018 Marvel superhero film Black Panther, was 43 years old.

Chadwick Boseman at Comic-Con International in San Diego, California, 2017
Image: Gage Skidmore.

Boseman died at home on August 28 in the company of his wife and family according to a statement posted to his official Twitter account. It also stated he was in stage IV of his cancer which had been diagnosed in 2016. His illness was not public information, even as he had undergone surgeries and chemotherapy to treat it, all the while continuing to work.

Boseman was born in South Carolina. He attended the British American Drama Academy (BADA) during his studies at Howard University from which he graduated in 2000. Early in his career, Boseman acted in television soap operas, however, his role as Jackie Robinson in film 42 was widely considered a breakthrough. He later played starring roles in other biographical films portraying James Brown in Get On Up and Thurgood Marshall in Marshall.

Boseman portrayed Black Panther, also known as King T'Challa, in four Marvel films. The first was Captain America: Civil War which preceded the aforementioned Black Panther film. Subsequently, he appeared in both Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame.

Ryan Coogler, the director of Black Panther, wrote of Boseman, "I noticed then that Chad was an anomaly", recalling their first meeting. "He was calm. Assured. Constantly studying. But also kind, comforting, had the warmest laugh in the world, and eyes that [saw] much beyond his years, but could still sparkle like a child seeing something for the first time."

Actor Denzel Washington, who paid for Boseman to attend BADA, stated "He was a gentle soul and a brilliant artist, who will stay with us for eternity through his iconic performances over his short yet illustrious career […] God bless Chadwick Boseman."

Wayne A. I. Frederick, president of Howard University, wrote "It is with profound sadness that we mourn the loss of alumnus Chadwick Boseman who passed away this evening. His incredible talent will forever be immortalized through his characters and through his own personal journey from student to superhero! Rest in Power, Chadwick!"

On Sunday, the MTV Video Music Awards also marked the passing of Boseman by dedicating the show to him. The audience was also shown a replay from the 2018 ceremony when Boseman gave his "Best Hero" award to James Shaw Jr. who disarmed a shooter at a restaurant in Tennessee.

During ABC's "A Tribute For a King", Sunday evening, a number of celebrities made appearances. Oprah Winfrey, Whoopi Goldberg, Kevin Feige, Bob Iger, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Don Cheadle, Jeremy Renner, Winston Duke, Mark Ruffalo, and Paul Rudd, all contributed. During the broadcast, Downey said of Boseman, "He was having this immense success, in a strata of his own, humble hardworking, always smile on his face […] Black Panther was hands down the crowning achievement of the Marvel Universe. The one where people got to vote with ticket sales we require this. It is a fantastic movie that leveled the playing field."

The Walt Disney Company owns both Marvel Studios and ABC.