July 10, 2017
Photo by National General Pictures/Getty Images
Original Roots actor, Ji-Tu Cumbuka, died at age 77 on July 4 in Atlanta, GA.
The actor’s death reportedly followed an illness and double amputation. Cumbuka’s niece, Amber Holifield, announced the actor’s death on her Facebook page.
Cumbuka is most known for his role in the legendary 1977 miniseries Roots as the slave “Wrestler”.
He played theWrestler in the original ROOTS, one of Kunta’s primary mentors; as he was for me on my first gig! #RIP https://t.co/uQTrmiMybt
— LeVar Burton (@levarburton) July 9, 2017
He also appeared in films alongside the late comedian Richard Pryor like Brewster’s Millions (1985) and Harlem Nights (1989).
The versatile actor’s acting resume includes television roles in CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and Walker, Texas Ranger. He was also a series regular on A Man Called Sloane in 1979 where he portrayed “Torque”, a man with a mechanical hand.
Cumbuka also appeared in films such as Blacula (1972), Maurie (1973), and The Jericho Mile (1979).
Born on March 4, 1940 in Helena, Alabama, the actor attended Texas Southern University and made his acting debut in the film, Uptight (1968).
In 2011, the actor published his memoir “A Giant to Remember: The Black Actor in Hollywood”.
He founded the non-profit Help Somebody Foundation Ministries to give back to others through varying programs.
Ji-Tu Cumbaka’s presence will definitely be missed.
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