IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Chadwick Boseman, star of 'Black Panther,' remembered as 'superstar on screen and in life'

The "Black Panther" star, 43, was memorialized on social media, where many expressed shock as news of his death spread. He had not spoken publicly about his diagnosis.
Image: CHadwick Boseman, The 2018 ESPYS - Arrivals
Actor Chadwick Boseman attends The 2018 ESPYS at Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles on July 18, 2018.Axelle / Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic/Getty Images file

Chadwick Boseman was remembered as an inspiring talent, a gentle soul and a true fighter Friday night following news he has died at age 43 after a four-year battle with colon cancer.

Boseman had been diagnosed with Stage III colon cancer in 2016, which had progressed to Stage IV, his family said in a statement. Boseman died in his home, with his wife and family by his side, the statement, which was posted on his Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts, said.

"A true fighter, Chadwick persevered through it all, and brought you many of the films you have come to love so much," the statement 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."

He played Black icons Jackie Robinson and James Brown and found fame in the Marvel film "Black Panther." Black Panther's real name is King T’Challa. In their statement, his family said it was the honor of his career to bring King T’Challa to life.

His alma mater, Howard University, said: "It is with profound sadness that we mourn the loss of alumnus Chadwick Boseman who passed away this evening. His incredible talent will forever be immortalized through his characters and through his own personal journey from student to superhero! Rest in Power!"

Many social media users said Friday that Boseman's portrayal of the Black Panther gave a voice to marginalized groups and provided them a hero they could identify with. It is a sentiment that was not lost on Boseman.

In a 2018 interview with NBC's "Sunday TODAY," Boseman said he believed there was a thirst for a Black superhero and leaders who actually care.

Some of the remembrances posted on social media incorporated his "Wakanda Forever" salute.

The Ryan Coogler film, which cost about $200 million to make, also features Angela Bassett, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong'o, Daniel Kaluuya and Letitia Wright. It is among the few to be centered on a Black superhero.

Bassett, who played the mother of Boseman's character in "Black Panther," posted a photo on her Instagram account from the film of them hugging and said they were meant to be connected. What many don’t know, she wrote, is that their story began long before his historic turn as Black Panther. During the premiere party for the film, Boseman whispered to her that when she received an honorary degree from Howard University, he was the student assigned to escort her.

"And here we were, years later as friends and colleagues, enjoying the most glorious night ever! We’d spent weeks prepping, working, sitting next to each other every morning in makeup chairs, preparing for the day together as mother and son," she wrote. "I am honored that we enjoyed that full circle experience. This young man’s dedication was awe-inspiring, his smile contagious, his talent unreal."

"So I pay tribute to a beautiful spirit, a consummate artist, a soulful brother," she wrote. "'Thou aren’t not dead but flown afar...'. All you possessed, Chadwick, you freely gave. Rest now, sweet prince."

Boseman was memorialized by others on social media, where many expressed shock as news of his death spread. He had not spoken publicly about his diagnosis.

"This is a crushing blow," actor and director Jordan Peele said on Twitter.

Actor and writer Issa Rae tweeted: "This broke me."

Media mogul Oprah Winfrey marveled Friday at Boseman's determination.

"What a gentle gifted SOUL. Showing us all that Greatness in between surgeries and chemo," Winfrey tweeted. "The courage, the strength, the Power it takes to do that. This is what Dignity looks like."

Television producer Shonda Rhimes said: "I just can't take it anymore" and asked if there was supposed to be a lesson in 2020. "If so," she tweeted, "fail me now."

Actress Gabrielle Union remembered him as a true gentleman and "superstar on screen and in life."

"Pure excellence and class and grace," she tweeted.

Actor Mark Ruffalo said Boseman was an immense talent.

"All I have to say is the tragedies amassing this year have only been made more profound by the loss of #ChadwickBoseman. What a man, and what an immense talent. Brother, you were one of the all time greats and your greatness was only beginning," Ruffalo tweeted.

Some social media users pointed out the irony that Boseman died on a day that Major League Baseball was celebrating Jackie Robinson Day. It is normally on April 15, but the celebration was moved to Aug. 28 this season to accommodate the COVID-19-altered schedule, which started in late July.

The league said in a statement that it was devastated by the tragic loss of Boseman.

"His transcendent performance in '42' will stand the test of time and serve as a powerful vehicle to tell Jackie’s story to audiences for generations to come," the league said.

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said Boseman's true power "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," Biden tweeted. "Jill and I are praying for his loved ones at this difficult time."

Boseman's last Instagram post on Aug. 11 was an image of him embracing Sen. Kamala Harris on the day it was announced Biden had selected her as his running mate. The photo was captioned: "YES." He also tweeted the image that day.

Harris paid tribute to the actor and their friendship Friday night, saying she was heartbroken.

"My friend and fellow Bison Chadwick Boseman was brilliant, kind, learned, and humble," Harris tweeted. "He left too early but his life made a difference. Sending my sincere condolences to his family."

Musician John Legend said he was shocked and heartbroken.

"He was such a bright light, such a gifted performer. He brought grace, elegance and power to everything he did. He always seemed to carry our ancestors with him," Legend tweeted. "And now he joins them far too soon."