Chadwick Boseman's shocking and untimely death robbed the world of an immense acting talent, but his legacy lives on in his last performance in "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom," which earned him a Golden Globe Award and an Oscar nomination.
We were all stunned when Chadwick Boseman—who had made a career of playing heroes, both real (Jackie Robinson, Thurgood Marshall, James Brown) and imaginary (King T'Challa, aka Black Panther)—died on Aug. 28, 2020 at 43 after a private battle with stage IV colon cancer. His life's work became even more awe-inspiring when we discovered that Boseman had been waging his cancer fight since 2016, when he was filming his career-defining role as Black Panther in three Marvel films, as well "Marshall," Spike Lee's "Da 5 Bloods" and his last role in "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" with Viola Davis, who said of Boseman after his passing that "he lived with the utmost integrity." Boseman would be honored for his performance as troubled trumpeter Levee Green with countless accolades, including a Golden Globe and a Screen Actors Guild Award (he was also nominated for his supporting role in "Da 5 Bloods"), but none were bigger than the Oscar nod for Best Actor in a Leading Role. Though Boseman lost to Anthony Hopkins in a stunning upset (even the Academy, which had moved its Best Actor award to the end of ceremony, where normally the Best Picture award would be presented, seemed caught off guard by the loss), his legacy is cemented in stone—literally. In May, Boseman's alma mater, Howard University, named the College of Fine Arts after him, with fellow alumna and mentor Phylicia Rashad serving as dean. While there are no plans to digitize Boseman or recast his role in next summer's "Black Panther 2," his last performance as T'Challa lives on in his voiceover work in an episode of the Marvel animated series "What If…?" on Disney+. In "Black Panther," T'Challa's nemesis, Erik Killmonger, asked the people of Wakanda a question, one that could very well be applied to Boseman: "Is this your king?" The answer is: Yes, absolutely. Chadwick Boseman forever.