'Shaft' star honored at SIU - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

'Shaft' star honored at SIU

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CARBONDALE -- The man known as "Shaft" will receive an honorary degree in performing arts at SIU.  

Richard Roundtree went to SIU in the 1950s, but he never got his degree, leaving school after suffering multiple concussions on the football field.

"Coming back to where it pretty much started for me is... kind of very nice," said Roundtree. "And to walk away away with an honorary degree, hey, how much better can that get?"

He just wishes his grandmother could see it.  

"She looked at me the first time she saw me on stage, she said 'Boy, is that the way you're going to make a living? You better get some education.' Now I'm a doctor, hey, that's going to be on my front door when everybody visits me. Dr. Roundtree."

Roundtree spoke about what drove him to continue acting for decades...

His iconic role in Shaft, and even his battle with breast cancer in the 90s.  

SIU leaders say it was a no-brainer to bring the famed actor back to SIU.  

"To have the opportunity to sit down with someone who was a pop-culture icon, with such an eccentric career, is just fantastic. I can't put it into words," said Cinema & Photography Chair Dr. Novotny Lawrence.

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