Chadwick Boseman died on August 28th 2020 of colon cancer surrounded by loved ones, his wife included.
If this came as a shock to you that the man who played Black Panther with such regalia, ferocity, and yet compassion – had colon cancer, you’re not the only one. Chadwick Boseman was a private person. He didn’t wear a wedding ring, he didn’t want the red carpet with anyone, he didn’t talk about his personal life in interviews. It makes sense he didn’t talk about his health.
According to Boseman’s Twitter, in 2016 Chadwick was diagnosed with stage III colon cancer. He battled that during his rise as Black Panther in Captain America: Civil War in 2016 (along with Message From The King in 2016), as Thurgood Marshall in Marshall in 2017, then back to back Avengers movies in 2018 and 2019 respectively. In 2019, Boseman teamed up with the Russo Brothers again in 21 Bridges and in 2020 on Netflix he played a soldier in the Vietnam War in Da 5 Bloods. This year Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom is going to be his posthumous last project.
Boseman worked tirelessly through his illness. He never mentioned it. Even when the media noticed he was getting sickly skinny, Boseman never talked about his life. On July 21st, 2020 Chadwick was rushed to the emergency room in Santa Monica, California. In the pictures, he looked emaciated. He began to delete pictures of himself on social media. It’s heartbreaking to think about the negative things people were believing about the young man.
Chadwick was born on November 29th, 1976 in Anderson, South Carolina. He grew up in Anderson. He attended Schomburg Center for Research in Harlem, New York- studying in African (and African American) history. He obtained his Bachelors in fine arts degree in directing from Howard’s University in Washington DC. After that, he went to the British American Drama Academy in Oxford, England. Denzel Washington paid for his education at Oxford (Boseman didn’t know this until later).
His first major role of note was in the American soap opera All My Children as Reggie Porter Montgomery in 2003. He left the role after one week. He left because of racial stereotypes he didn’t want to be part of. According to The Wrap in an interview with Boseman and Michael B. Jordan, Boseman’s character would be a young gang member adopted by Susan Lucci’s Erica Kane. Boseman voiced his opinions about the character. The writers thought he was too much trouble to work with, let him go (after a week), took some of his suggestions and had recast Reggie as Michael B. Jordan (he stayed in the role for 3 years). Jordan and Boseman would later play rivals (and cousins) in Black Panther in 2018.
In 2008 Boseman played Nathaniel Ray in the ABC Family show Lincoln Heights for 9 episodes. That’s where I first remember seeing him.
In 2010 he was in Person Unknown (which was very Lost-esque) for 13 episodes. It was a summer Fox series. It wasn’t a good series but I remember thinking “who is this guy. He’s going to be famous.”
In 2013, Boseman had his first first big break to modern mainstream audiences as Jackie Robinson. He played the first African American baseball player in 42 with Alan Tudyk as an antagonist.
In 2014 he played legendary musician James Brown in Get on Up, with a ferocious intensity.
Chadwick played Black Panther with such humble humanity, but the character seemed bigger than just a comic book character. He gave kids all over the world a character they could identify with, and not only was that character strong but he was a good person. His strength didn’t come from his superpowers, but the strength of his character and his caring heart. Boseman brought that out in T’Challa. He also recognized the weight of that role and importance.
He died on Jack Kirby’s 103rd birthday. Jack Kirby created Black Panther. Boseman died at 43.
“I think there’s a difference between a working actor, a movie star and a celebrity. They’re all three different things.” – Chadwick Boseman