Thursday, September 3, 2020

The Late Great Chadwick Boseman

Chadwick Boseman, who played Jackie Robinson in 42 (2013), James Brown in Get On Up (2014), Thurgood Marshall in Marshall (2017), and T'Challa/The Black Panther in Black Panther (2018) and related Marvel Cinematic Universe films, died on August 28 2020 at the age of 43. The cause was stage IV colon cancer.

Chadwick Boseman was born on November 29 1976 in Anderson, South Carolina. It was during his junior year at T. L. Hanna High School that he wrote and staged his first play, Crossroads. He attended Howard University in Washington, D.C. and graduated in 2000 with Bachelor of Fine Arts. Among his teachers was Phylicia Rashad, who also served as his mentor. Chadwick Boseman was among the students who had been accepted into the British American Drama Academy's Midsummer program, but could not attend because they couldn't afford it. Phylicia Rashad contacted her friend Denzel Washington, who paid money so that Mr. Boseman and other students could attend the program.

Chadwick Boseman made his television debut in an episode of Third Watch in 2003. In the Naughts he was a regular on the TV shows Lincoln Heights and Persons Unknown. He guest starred on Law & Order, CSI: NY, ER, Cold Case, Lie to Me, and The Glades. He made his film debut in The Express in 2008. He continued work as a playwright. His Deep Azure was performed at the Congo Square Theatre Company in Chicago. He also wrote the plays Rhyme Deferred and Hieroglyphic Graffiti.

In the Teens, Chadwick Boseman guest starred on the TV shows Castle, Detroit 1-8-7, Justified, and Fringe. It was in 2013 that he appeared in his first lead role, playing baseball legend Jackie Robinson in 42. The following year he starred as music legend James Brown in Get On Up (2014). He first appeared as T'Challa in the movie Captain America: Civil War (2016). He reprised the role in Black Panther (2018), Avengers: Infinity War (2018), and Avengers: Endgame (2019). In 2017 he appeared as Thurgood Marshall in Marshall, which centred around an early case from Thurgood Marshall's career, State of Connecticut v. Joseph Spell. He also appeared in the movies The Kill Hole (2012), Draft Day (2014), Gods of Egypt (2016), Message from the King (2016), 21 Bridges (2019), and Da 5 Bloods (2020). He is set to appear in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, which will premiere on Netflix.

That Chadwick Boseman was an incredible actor can be seen by his performances in a variety of roles. He was totally convincing as baseball player Jackie Robinson. As soul music legend James Brown his dance moves were virtually the same as the genuine article. He was impressive as lawyer Thurgood Marshall. As to his best known role, T'Challa, King of Wakanda and the superhero known as The Black Panther, it is hard to see anyone else in the role. Chadwick Boseman was also incredibly devoted to his craft. He was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2016. In the intervening years he made nine movies. There can be no doubt that many times he was in pain and suffering from chemotherapy.

Chadwick Boseman was not simply an incredible actor, but he was also an incredible human being. He was known for raising awareness and money for children's charities. In 2018 he bought hundreds of movie tickets for underprivileged children in his hometown of Anderson. He continued to visit children in hospitals even as he was dying from a terminal illness. Chadwick Boseman not only played a superhero on screen. He was a superhero in real life too.

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