Harlem Nights and Roots star Ji-Tu Cumbuka has passed away. He was 77-years-old.
Ji-Tu Cumbuka Cause of Death
The actor passed away last Tuesday (July 4) surrounded by friends and family in Atlanta, Georgia. His family announced his passing in an emotional social media post on Sunday from his niece Amber Holifield.
“In my Uncle Ji-Tu’s final days until his final moments he was surrounded with love and support!” said Holifield in her post (below). “It’s was a blessing for all of us to be together in his final hour, and not to mention we pretty much stayed at the hospital with him, and boy did he enjoy our company. The nurses, maybe a different story… lol. He stayed strong and just as sweet as he wanted to be the entire time and that I will never forget that!!”
One notable tribute to the late actor came from LeVar Burton, who played Kunta Kinte in Roots, the iconic 1977 Emmy Award-winning miniseries.
Cumbuka, who released an autobiography in 2011 titled A Giant to Remember: The Black Actor in Hollywood, enjoyed a steady career as a veteran film and TV actor. He was also known for playing Hawk on 1977’s Young Dan’l Boone show and then Torque in the NBC spy series A Man Called Sloane. Other TV credits include Ironside, Sanford and Son, Knight Rider, The Dukes of Hazzard, The A-Team, St. Elsewhere, The Six Million Dollar Man, Hunter, Matlock, Knots Landing, Walker Texas Ranger, and CSI.
He also played the “Toothless Gambler” in the 1989 Eddie Murphy comedy Harlem Nights.
Cumbuka, whose given name means “giant to remember” in Swahili, spent the last several years of his life founding the Help Somebody Foundation Ministries, a non-profit organization that helps people battle addiction and face social challenges to once again become part of the community as productive citizens.