Richard Roundtree (born July 9, 1942) is an American actor and former male fashion model. He is best known for his portrayal of private detective John Shaft in the film Shaft (1971) and in its two sequels, Shaft's Big Score (1972) and Shaft in Africa (1973).
Roundtree was born in New Rochelle, New York, the son of Kathryn, a nurse and housekeeper, and John Roundtree, a caterer, garbage collector, and Pentecostal Church elder. Richard Roundtreee graduated from New Rochelle High School in 1961 and starred on New Rochelle High's undefeated and nationally ranked football team in 1960. He attended Southern Illinois University. Roundtree was diagnosed with the rare form of male breast cancer in 1993 and underwent a double mastectomy and chemotherapy. Roundtree has a family of his own. He also has great nephews named Nigel Roundtree, Darian Smith, and Richard Smith; his great nieces are Yasmeen Roundtree, Anaiya Smith, and Kayla Smith.
Roundtree was a leading man in early 1970s Blaxploitation films. He also played a role in the 1977 television series Roots, in the role of the slave Sam Bennett. He portrayed Dr. Daniel Reubens on Generations from 1989-1991. Prior to becoming an actor, he was a football player and a model. Although Roundtree worked through the 1990s, many of his more recent films were not well-received, but he was able to find success in stage plays.