‘Black Panther’ Star Chadwick Boseman Dies of Cancer at 43

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Chadwick Boseman, the regal actor who embodied a long-held dream of African-American moviegoers as the star of the groundbreaking superhero film “Black Panther,” died on Friday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 43.

His publicist confirmed the death, saying Mr. Boseman’s wife, Taylor Simone Ledward, and family were by his side at the time. A statement posted on Mr. Boseman’s Instagram account said that he learned he had Stage 3 colon cancer in 2016 and that it had progressed to Stage 4.

“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.”

A private figure by Hollywood standards, Mr. Boseman rarely publicized details about his personal life. He found fame relatively late as an actor — he was 35 when he appeared in his first prominent role, as Jackie Robinson in “42” — but made up for lost time with a string of star-making performances in major biopics.

Whether it was James Brown in “Get On Up,” Thurgood Marshall in “Marshall” or T’Challa in “Black Panther,” Mr. Boseman’s unfussy versatility and old-fashioned gravitas helped turn him into one of his generation’s most sought-after leading men.

Oprah Winfrey, also posting on Twitter, wrote that Mr. Boseman was “a gentle gifted SOUL.”

“Showing us all that Greatness in between surgeries and chemo,” she added. “The courage, the strength, the Power it takes to do that. This is what Dignity looks like.”

Audiences were even more enthusiastic. Joyful armies of fans participated in special outings and repeated viewings. Many came to theaters dressed in African-inspired clothing and accessories, often using a greeting from the film, “Wakanda forever,” as a convivial rallying cry.

The fervor helped make “Black Panther” one of the highest-grossing movies of all time, with more than $1.3 billion in earnings globally. Its success represented a moment of hope, pride and empowerment for Black moviegoers around the world. And it marked an inflection point in Hollywood, where decades of discrimination against Black-led films gave way to a new era of increased visibility and opportunity for Black artists.

The statement on Mr. Boseman’s Instagram account said it was “the honor of his career to bring King T’Challa to life in ‘Black Panther.’”

How the Walt Disney Company might continue the blockbuster franchise without Mr. Boseman, if at all, was unclear. Although a sequel had been scheduled for release in 2022, filming had yet to begin. On Twitter, fans quickly mounted a campaign demanding that Disney not recast the role. The studio had no comment.

Chadwick Aaron Boseman was born on Nov. 29, 1976, in the small city of Anderson, S.C., the youngest of three boys. His mother, Carolyn, was a nurse, and his father, Leroy, worked for an agricultural conglomerate and had a side business as an upholsterer.

After starring in “Black Panther,” Mr. Boseman reprised the role in two “Avengers” films, “Avengers: Infinity War” (2018) and “Avengers: Endgame” (2019).

He was developing multiple projects as a screenwriter (he co-wrote an undeveloped script for an international thriller called “Expatriate”) and as a producer (he was a producer and star of the 2019 detective movie “21 Bridges”) for what he hoped would be a fruitful new chapter in his career.

Mr. Boseman continued to take on roles with a sociopolitical edge. He appeared as a Vietnam War hero in the Spike Lee epic “Da 5 Bloods,” released in the spring, and will play a 1920s blues musician in a film adaptation of August Wilson’s “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” produced by Mr. Washington and Todd Black and due later this year from Netflix.

A lifelong admirer of Muhammad Ali, Mr. Boseman sought to wield his celebrity to advance a greater, moral cause. During this summer’s wave of protests against systemic racism and police brutality, he expressed support for the Black Lives Matter movement and joined other Black entertainers and executives in calling on the industry to cut ties with police departments.

Onscreen and off, he was fueled by a commitment to leave nothing on the table.

“You want to choose a difficult way sometimes,” he said, describing his acting method to The Times last year. “Some days it should be simple, but sometimes you’ve got to take chances.”

Brooks Barnes and Marie Fazio contributed reporting.

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