Max Julien, who starred in the 1973 blaxploitation classic The Mack opposite a young Richard Pryor, has died. He was 88.
He died on New Year’s Day at Sherman Oaks Hospital, his wife of 30 years, Arabella, told The Hollywood Reporter. The cause of death had not been determined, she said.
His PR team paid tribute to the actor in a statement to TMZ: “During Julien’s decades-long career, he was known for being bold, honest and straightforward. He would live and speak his own truth both professionally and privately. He was thought of as a rare ‘man among men.’”
David F. Walker, a comic book writer and filmmaker who was Julien’s friend, also posted a tribute on Instagram.
“I met Max back in 1996,” he wrote. “He was a great human being, and we had so many amazing conversations. He was brilliant and hilarious and charismatic…R.I.P.”
In The Mack, Julien played Goldie, an ex-con who becomes a big-time pimp in Oakland (with the help of Slim, Pryor’s character) after he’s released from prison.
The film has been praised as a standout of the blaxploitation genre. Quentin Tarantino also has said he’s a fan. He once wrote: “Even including its flaws, The Mack is the best and most memorable crime picture of the whole blaxploitation genre.”
The Washington, D.C. native also appeared in off-Broadway productions, including in Shakespeare in the Park for famed producer Joseph Papp, and wrote the screenplay for Cleopatra Jones (1973), starring Tamara Dobson.
His other acting credits included Psych-Out (with Jack Nicholson), Getting Straight (with Candice Bergen), The Black Klansman, Thomasine & Bushrod (which he also wrote), Def Jam’s How to Be a Player, The Mod Squad, The Bold Ones: The Protectors and One on One.