Melvin Van Peebles Dies: Iconic Filmmaker, Actor, and Novelist Was 89

  • Indiewire
Melvin Van Peebles Dies: Iconic Filmmaker, Actor, and Novelist Was 89
Multi-hyphenate talent Melvin Van Peebles has died at the age of 89. The news was announced on Wednesday by The Criterion Collection and Janus Films, which shared it on behalf of the entire Van Peebles family. The “giant of American Cinema” passed away on September 21 at home with his family.

Van Peebles gave American independent cinema exactly what it needed, when it needed it most: an explosive shake-up, with his unfiltered expression of Black consciousness and energetic style. The anarchic 1971 blaxploitation classic “Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song” undeniably shifted the course of American film history, and it was just one piece of a remarkably varied career that also encompassed forays into European arthouse cinema (“The Story of a Three Day Pass”), Hollywood comedy (“Watermelon Man”), Broadway productions (“Don’t Play Us Cheap”), novels, and performances. He was a transformative artist whose biting observations of social mores, unapologetic radicalism, and vision established a model for Black creative independence.
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