SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF/AP)  — Actor Chadwick Boseman, who played Black icons Jackie Robinson and James Brown before finding fame as the regal Black Panther in the Marvel cinematic universe, died Friday of cancer, his representative said. He was 43.

Chadwick Boseman in Marvel Studios’ “Black Panther” (credit: Walt Disney Studios/Marvel Studios)

Boseman died at his home in the Los Angeles area with his wife and family by his side, his publicist Nicki Fioravante told The Associated Press.

Boseman was diagnosed with colon cancer four years ago, his family said in a statement.

“A true fighter, Chadwick persevered through it all, and brought you many of the films you have come to love so much,” his family said. “From Marshall to Da 5 Bloods, August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and several more – all were filmed during and between countless surgeries and chemotherapy. It was the honor of his career to bring King T’Challa to life in Black Panther.”

Black Panther was directed by Bay Area filmmaker Ryan Coogler. He and Boseman appeared frequently together in forums to discuss and promote their work.

American director Ryan Coogler (L) and American actor Chadwick Boseman pose on arrival for the European Premiere of ‘Black Panther’ in London in November 2018. (Photo credit should read TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images)

Boseman had not spoken publicly about his diagnosis.

Born in South Carolina, Boseman graduated from Howard University and had small roles in television before his first star turn in 2013. His striking portrayal of the stoic baseball star Robinson opposite Harrison Ford in 2013′s “42” drew attention in Hollywood and made him a star.

Boseman died on a day that Major League Baseball was celebrating Jackie Robinson day.

Condolences from fans around the world were swift, including words from Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his running mate, Senator Kamala Harris.

“The true power of @chadwickboseman was bigger than anything we saw on screen. From the Black Panther to Jackie Robinson, he inspired generations and showed them they can be anything they want — even super heroes. Jill and I are praying for his loved ones at this difficult time,” wrote Vice-President Biden in a Tweet.

“Heartbroken. My friend and fellow Bison Chadwick Boseman was brilliant, kind, learned, and humble. He left too early but his life made a difference. Sending my sincere condolences to his family,” tweeted Senator Kamala Harris, who also attended Howard University.

“This is a crushing blow” actor and director Jordan Peele said on Twitter, one of many expressing shock as the news spread across social media.

“This broke me,” said actor and writer Issa Rae.

His T’Challa character was first introduced to the blockbuster Marvel movies in 2016′s “Captain America: Civil War,” and his “Wakanda Forever” salute reverberated around the world after the release of “Black Panther” two years ago.

The character was last seen standing silently dressed in a black suit at Tony Stark’s funeral in last year’s “Avengers: Endgame.”

Even at the outset of his Hollywood career, Boseman was clear-eyed about — and even skeptical of — the industry in which he would become an international star.

“You don’t have the same exact experience as a Black actor as you do as a white actor. You don’t have the same opportunities. That’s evident and true,” he told AP while promoting “42.” “The best way to put it is: How often do you see a movie about a black hero who has a love story — with a black woman, or any woman for that matter … he has a spirituality. He has an intellect. It’s weird to say it, but it doesn’t happen that often.”

In addition to Robinson and Brown, Boseman portrayed U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall in 2017′s “Marshall.“

He took on his first producing job in last year’s action thriller “21 Bridges,” in which he also starred, and was last seen on-screen in Spike Lee’s film “Da 5 Bloods” as the leader of a group of Black soldiers in the Vietnam War.

 

 

© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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