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Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise

Chadwick Boseman, Actor Who Played Jackie Robinson in '42,' Dies at 43

Chadwick Boseman, the actor who played Jackie Robinson and starred in Black Panther, died Friday night at age 43.
Chadwick Boseman, the actor who played Jackie Robinson and starred in Black Panther, died Friday night at age 43.
Image: (Getty Images)

Even after all that 2020 has taken from us, the loss of Chadwick Boseman seems unbearable.

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The family of the Anderson, S.C.-born actor posted the news on his social media accounts late Friday night. He had succumbed to a four-year battle with colon cancer.

“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 in a statement. “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.”

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His breakthrough role was playing Jackie Robinson in the 2013 movie “42,” and he died as baseball celebrated Jackie Robinson Day. He was only 43.

The sports world joined Hollywood in expressing its sorrow and grief.

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The Hollywood Reporter described his portrayal of Robinson as more convincing than Robinson playing himself in the 1950 biopic The Jackie Robinson Story.

“Boseman has the necessary appeal, proves convincing as an athlete and is expressive in spite of the fact that the man he’s playing must mostly keep his true feelings bottled up.”

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A clear rising star and real leading-man material, Boseman went on to play other titans of American history: James Brown in Get On Up and Thurgood Marshall in Marshall. And a year after playing Robinson, he took on the part of Vontae Mack, a linebacker from Ohio State in the movie Draft Day.

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But of course, he will forever be most remembered and celebrated for his role as the title character in Marvel’s Black Panther. For all its commercial success and acclaim, nothing in the MCU’s 22-film catalog compares with the power and majesty of Black Panther. You don’t have to be Black to appreciate the power of the mythology: a secret, technologically superior isolationist African nation nearly brought to its knees by its desire to not engage in world politics and to keep its treasures and advances for itself.

Boseman’s brilliant portrayal of King T’Challa came at a time when Hollywood finally had its reckoning with diversity and representation issues, as hashtag #OscarsSoWhite trended.

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“I hope people will watch this movie and see the hero in themselves,” he told The Hollywood Reporter. “Even if it’s a white person who sees it, if they can see a Black character and identify with them, it changes a little bit about how our society is.”

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Boseman and his amazing chemistry with co-stars Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira and Letitia Wright are enough to carry the film. His struggles with sympathetic villain Erik Killmonger, played by the equally charismatic Michael B. Jordan, make it great.

Boseman inspired millions worldwide and his characters offered us hope in the fight for a better world. Unfortunately, our world isn’t one in which Dr. Strange can navigate through 14,000,605 possible futures and find one to bring him back.

Managing editor. Former N.Y. Daily Newser. Former broke poker player.

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