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Max Julien, an actor best known for his lead performance in the 1973 blaxploitation classic “The Mack,” died on Saturday. He was 88 years old.
An official cause of death was not immediately available.
News of Julien’s death was confirmed by his friend, comic book writer and filmmaker David F. Walker. Walker posted a tribute to the late actor on his Instagram.
“I met Max in 1996,” Walker wrote. “He was a great human being and we had so many amazing conversations. He was brilliant and hilarious and charismatic. R.I.P.”
Released in 1973, “The Mack” co-starred Julien and Richard Pryor. Julien plays John “Goldie” Mickens, an ex-convict on a mission to make a name for himself by becoming the biggest pimp in Oakland, Calif, teaming up with Pryor’s Slim to build a criminal enterprise. The two find opposition in the Black Nationalist efforts headed by Goldie’s brother, as well as from racist law enforcement figures. “The Mack” has grown to become one of the most prominent classics of the blaxploitation era, with hip-hop and rap artists like Dr. Dre and Chief Keef sampling audio from the film in their work.
Born on Jan. 1, 1933 in Washington, D.C., Julien began working as an actor in Off-Broadway productions and Shakespeare in the Park. His first on-screen roles included “Psych-Out” and “Getting Straight.”
Julien also worked as a screenwriter and producer, serving both roles and also starring in 1974’s western “Thomasine & Bushrod.” He received an NAACP Image Award nomination for best writer of the year for his work on the film. Julien also wrote and co-produced the 1973 feature “Cleopatra Jones” starring Tamara Dobson, serving as creator for one of the most enduring characters of the blaxploitation era.
Beyond filmmaking, Julien also practiced as an author, poet and sculptor.