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2    WHEREAS, The members of the Illinois House of
3Representatives are saddened to learn of the death of actor
4Richard Arnold Roundtree, who passed away on October 24, 2023;
6    WHEREAS, Richard Roundtree was born to Kathryn (Watkins)
7and John Roundtree in New Rochelle, New York on July 9, 1942;
8he graduated from New Rochelle High School, where he played on
9its nationally ranked football team; he attended Southern
10Illinois University Carbondale (SIU) on a football scholarship
11from 1961 to 1963; he married Mary Jane Grant in 1963, and they
12had two children before divorcing in 1973; he later married
13Karen M. Cierna in 1980, and they had three children before
14divorcing in 1998; and
15    WHEREAS, Richard Roundtree left SIU after signing as a
16model for the Ebony Fashion Fair, touring 79 cities in 90 days;
17following this opportunity, he returned to New York to pursue
18acting, joining the Negro Ensemble Company in 1967; he
19appeared in several Off-Broadway shows, including as
20heavyweight boxing champion Jack Johnson in a production of
21The Great White Hope; and
22    WHEREAS, Richard Roundtree was best known for playing



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1private detective John Shaft in the 1971 film Shaft, a role
2that many consider the first African American action hero; he
3returned to play the character in two sequels, which premiered
4in 1972 and 1973 respectively, and the similarly named TV
5series from 1973 to 1974; he later returned to the movie
6franchise for the 2019 remake, which featured Samuel L.
7Jackson taking on the titular role; and
8    WHEREAS, In addition to the Shaft franchise, Richard
9Roundtree earned more than 100 credits across film and
10television projects; he appeared in dozens of films, including
11the 1974 disaster drama Earthquake, starring Charlton Heston,
12Ava Gardner, George Kennedy, and Lorne Greene, and the 1984
13buddy-crime-comedy City Heat, working alongside Clint Eastwood
14and Burt Reynolds; he made appearances in dozens of television
15shows, including the miniseries Roots, The Love Boat, Magnum
16P.I., Amen, A Different World, MacGyver, Beverly Hills 90210,
17L.A. Law, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Touched by an Angel,
18Desperate Housewives, The Closer, Grey's Anatomy, The
19Mentalist, and Chicago Fire; more recently, he was a regular
20cast member in BET's critically acclaimed series Being Mary
21Jane from 2013 to 2019; and
22    WHEREAS, Richard Roundtree became a staunch advocate and
23vocal proponent of male breast cancer awareness after being
24diagnosed with breast cancer in 1993, having to undergo a



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1radical mastectomy and several rounds of chemotherapy to beat
2the disease; he participated in countless benefits to help
3fight cancer and was the recipient of the prestigious Jackie
4Robinson Foundation Award for Excellence for his work in
5cancer awareness; and
6    WHEREAS, Richard Roundtree received several nominations
7and awards for his acting, including a 1972 Golden Globe Award
8nomination for Most Promising Newcomer in the male category
9for his role in the movie Shaft, a Lifetime Achievement Award
10from MTV in 1994, and the Legacy Award from the
11African-American Film Critics Association in 2011; he received
12an honorary Doctorate of Performing Arts from SIU in 2018; and
13    WHEREAS, Richard Roundtree will be remembered for his
14impact on film, pop culture, and cancer awareness; and
15    WHEREAS, Richard Roundtree is survived by his daughters,
16Kelli, Nicole, Tayler, and Morgan, and his son, John;
17therefore, be it
20we mourn the passing of Richard Arnold Roundtree and extend
21our sincere condolences to his family, friends, and all who
22knew and loved him; and be it further



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1    RESOLVED, That a suitable copy of this resolution be
2presented to the family of Richard Roundtree as an expression
3of our deepest sympathy.