Chadwick Boseman, best known as the star of “Black Panther,” died August 28, 2020 following a secret battle with colon cancer. He was nominated posthumously for a Golden Globe for his work in the drama “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.” He was 43.
Boseman was diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer in 2016, but kept his battle private, continuing to press forward in films, first stepping in as T’Challa in Marvel’s “Captain America: Civil War,” and filling roles in box-office hits even when undergoing cancer treatment. His death shocked his fans and even those who worked closely with him and had no idea about his secret struggle.
“Chadwick did not want to have people fuss over him,” his longtime agent, Michael Greene of Greene & Associates Talent Agency told The Hollywood Reporter.
The Golden Globe Awards 2021 airs at 8 p.m. Eastern time and 5 p.m. Pacific time on NBC on Sunday, February 28, 2021.
Here’s what you need to know:
Boseman Would Be the Second Actor to Posthumously Win a Golden Globe for Best Lead Actor in a Drama
Fans of Historians At The Movies, it's time to visit 1927 Chicago to talk about race, music, and power. Join us on @NetflixFilm this Sunday, Feb 28 at 8pm Eastern for MA RAINEY'S BLACK BOTTOM.
Help others join the #HATM band by retweeting and we'll see you soon! pic.twitter.com/euYvha2SxW
— Jason Herbert (@HerbertHistory) February 22, 2021
Variety predicted Boseman would be named the winner of a Golden Globe for Lead Actor in a Drama for “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.” This would make him the second posthumous winner for lead actor in a drama following Peter Finch, who won the Golden Globe for “Network” in 1976. Boseman died during post-production of the film.
The drama, directed by George C. Wolfe, told the tale of influential blues musician Ma Rainey, who was active in the 1920s. Boseman played trumpet player Levee Green, a fictional character whose story was intended to show the struggles Black musicians faced in the early 20th Century. You can watch the film on Netflix.
His 2021 Golden Globe Awards bio says:
Chadwick Boseman (born in Anderson, South Carolina, November 29, 1976, died August 28, 2020) played baseball legend Jackie Robinson in 42 (2013) with Harrison Ford, singer James Brown in Get on Up (2014), Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall in Marshall (2017) by Reginald Hudlin. He was T’Challa King of Wakanda in Marvel Comics Black Panther (2018), Captain America: Civil War (2016), Avengers: Infinity War (2018) Avengers: Endgame (2019). He acted in 21 Bridges (2019), Da 5 Bloods (2020) by Spike Lee, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (2020) with Viola Davis. He had been diagnosed with colon cancer in 2016.
Boseman was nominated for many other awards throughout his career, but the 2021 Golden Globe Awards marks the first time he was nominated for a Globe. Other actors nominated in the category include Riz Ahmed for “Sound of Metal,” Anthony Hopkins for “The Father,” Gary Oldman for “Mank” and Tahar Rahim for “The Mauritanian.”
Boseman Played Historical Black Figures in Film & Brought Diversity to the Marvel Universe in What Was Called ‘A Historical Moment for Black America’
Mr. Boseman leveled the playing field while fighting for his life… That’s heroism. I’ll remember the good times, the laughter, and the way he changed the game… #chadwickforever @chadwickboseman pic.twitter.com/IFfCSmLrhR
— Robert Downey Jr (@RobertDowneyJr) August 29, 2020
Boseman’s role as T’Challa was called a “historical moment for Black America” by The New York Times as he brought diversity to the Marvel universe with a powerful Black character, the warrior king of the African nation, Wakanda, even while he was battling Stage IV colon cancer.
Many actors spoke to his impact on the entertainment industry after his unexpected passing.
“Mr. Boseman leveled the playing field while fighting for his life… That’s heroism. I’ll remember the good times, the laughter, and the way he changed the game…,” Robert Downey Jr. wrote on Twitter.
Actor Michael B. Jordan, a close friend of Boseman, told Complex about the last years of his friend’s life and his legacy.
“We got a concentrated dose of Chadwick. He did more in his 43 years of life than most people have done in a lifetime. And he was here for the time he was supposed to be here, and he had his impact, and his legacy,” he said. “That was clear with the abundance of love that he has gotten from people all over the world. There are generations of kids coming up that look to him. It’s incredible. And losing him was … Yeah, man, it hurt. It hurt a lot. That’s probably what made me cry the most this year.”
Boseman shared about his driving force during an acceptance speech for 2019 Screen Actors Guild Awards for Outstanding Performance By a Cast in a Motion Picture.
To be young, gifted and Black, we all know what it’s like to be told that there is not a place for you to be featured. Yet, you are young, gifted and Black. We know what it’s like to be told to say there is not a screen for you to be featured on, a stage for you to be featured on…
We know what it’s like to be a tail and not the head. We know what it’s like to be beneath and not above. And that is what we went to work with every day because we knew, not that we would be around during awards season and that it would make a billion dollars, but we knew that we had something special that we wanted to give the world. That we could be full human beings in the roles that we were playing. That we could create a world that exemplified a world that we wanted to see.
He also spoke to graduates at his alma mater, Howard University, in a 2018 commencement speech, which you can watch below.
He told the Class of 2018, “I don’t know what your future is, but if you’re willing to take the harder way, the more complicated one, the one with more failures at first than successes, the one that has ultimately proven to have more meaning, more victory, more glory — then you will not regret it.”