Shafted into Soaps: Richard Roundtree is 70

Richard Roundtree turns 70 today.

In 1990, I was a Census enumerator, which meant I wold go door to door to count people. I used to watch the noon news, then started viewing whatever was after it. There was a soap opera featuring Richard Roundtree. Yes, Shaft himself! It was called Generations, and I ended up watching it at 12:30 pm until it died in 1991. (It had started in 1989). It was the first soap, reportedly, where about half the cast was black. Roundtree played Dr. Daniel Reubens, implicated for a crime he did not commit.

I never actually saw any of the Shaft movies, though I did see an episode or two of the short-lived (1973-1974) TV series based on them, but I was intrigued that this semi-famous movie actor was in this daytime TV show I had never heard of. The bad thing about watching it is that, eventually, I started watching Days of Our Lives at 1, and got sucked into that until some over-the-top plot line drove me away. Subsequently, I started watching Another World at 2, and I viewed it until two weeks before the end in 1999, when I got married and went on my honeymoon. But I’ve read the synopses.

My grandmother and great-aunt used to watch the CBS soaps (Guiding Light, Edge of Night, Secret Storm, and others) when I was a kid, and I’d see them quite a bit, especially the latter two (on at 3:30-4:30). As you probably know, lots of actors moved from the soap to prime time TV. I saw Henry Simmons on AW and then he spent the last 6 years on N.Y.P.D. Blue. AW’s Amy Carlson was on Third Watch, then the 4th Law & Order show.

Anyway, Richard Roundtree, who developed breast cancer in 1993 and had a double mastectomy and chemotherapy, is still a working actor. I remember him well in his guest appearance on the television series The Closer as the retired Marine colonel who was the father of a sniper.

He turns 70 today, and I wish him well, and forgive him for being my gateway drug to soap operas, an addiction I’ve now overcome.

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