SUPERFLY, RIP: Orrin Judd reports that Ron O’Neal, the actor who played–and created–the iconic Superfly during the early 1970s “blaxploitation” craze passed away. O’Neal was quoted in a recent LA Weekly piece as saying:
the press thought I was some n****r off the street who made a movie about his own dissolute life. I never used drugs in those days. And my film was about a dealer who quit selling drugs and got out of that system. Still, the negative press soured my career and, eventually, it soured me.
That quote speaks volumes of the stupidity of either Hollywood, the press that covers it, or both. I don’t know about you, but I never for a second thought that O’Neal was a former dealer himself, any more than I thought Marlon Brando was actually once the head of an organized crime family.
Ironically, O’Neal passed away, at age 66, of pancreatic cancer, the day before Superfly was released on DVD. Along with Shaft, Superfly represents the zenith of the blaxploitation period, and has an absolute knockout of a score from Curtis Mayfield.