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Friday, September 4, 2020

In Memoriam: Chadwick Boseman

Written by Jon Williams

The entertainment world was stunned last weekend by the passing of actor Chadwick Boseman after a long private battle with colon cancer. He was 43.

Boseman got an early start on a career in film and television. He got a degree in directing from Howard University, where Phylicia Rashad was one of his teachers and Denzel Washington was a benefactor. He began on the small screen with bit parts in shows like Law & Order, CSI:NY, and ER. In 2008 he appeared in his first big-screen role in The Express. However, he stayed mostly on television for the next few years, landing recurring and regular roles on the shows Lincoln Heights and Persons Unknown (both currently unavailable), one more one-shots on shows like Castle and Justified (Season 2 unavailable).

His star rocketed to the top for good with his first starring role. In 2013, he played Jackie Robinson, the first African-American player in Major League Baseball, in 42. (Coincidentally, the day he passed, August 28, was the date MLB celebrated Jackie Robinson Day this year.) He then went on to play other Black icons: James Brown in 2014’s Get on Up, and Thurgood Marshall, the first Black justice on the U.S. Supreme Court, in 2017’s Marshall.

While Boseman achieved praise for portraying each of those larger-than-life, real figures from American history, the greatest portion of his fame came from his role as a fictional king. T’Challa, the superhero Black Panther, was created by Marvel Comics in 1966; Boseman brought him to the silver screen in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War. The character got his own standalone adventure in 2018’s Black Panther, detailing T’Challa’s coronation as King of Wakanda and the first threat to his rule. Boseman played him again in Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. Black Panther (#4), Infinity War (#5), and Endgame (#2) are currently three of the top five grossing films of all time at the domestic box office.

Chadwick Boseman’s final film role was in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, based on a play detailing a recording session for blues musician Ma Rainey; release plans for the movie are still up in the air. In the meantime, make sure to have his work available for patrons who want to celebrate this phenomenally talented actor. Click on the links above, or SmartBrowse his name on our website to find more.

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