Max Julien, star of “The Mack” and pioneer of the film genre of blaxploitation, died on Saturday. He was 88 years old.
The death of the actor, writer and producer was confirmed on New Years Day by his longtime friend David F. Walker, a comic book author and filmmaker who paid tribute to Julien. on Instagram. Walker did not specify the cause of death.
“I met Max in 1996,” he wrote. “He was a great human being, and we had so many amazing conversations. He was brilliant, hilarious and charismatic… RIP”
In the 1973 classic “The Mack”, Julien played John “Goldie” Mickens, a formerly incarcerated man on a mission to become Oakland’s # 1 pimp. The beloved title also featured comedy legend Richard Pryor as Goldie’s criminal partner Slim.
Forty years after the premiere of “The Mack”, director Michael Campus fondly recalled the opening of the movie it was shot in: Oakland. The groundbreaking film retained a loyal following and influenced artists such as Tupac, Jadakiss, Too Short, Jay-Z and Quentin Tarantino.
“The first scene was with Richie and Max and – I’m not exaggerating – the whole audience stood up and started screaming on the screen,” Campus told the Los Angeles Times in 2013.
“They never sat down. No one had shown this world – no one had portrayed the black underworld. “
In addition to starring in “The Mack”, Julien is also credited as a writer and producer on two other blaxploitation feature films, “Thomasine & Bushrod” and “Cleopatra Jones”. The first starred Julien and Vonetta McGee – who dated in the 1970s – as a pair of Robin Hood-style outlaws in the Old West.
Julien has appeared in a number of other projects on the big and small screen, including “The Black Klansman”, “Getting Straight”, “Uptight” and “How to Be a Player”. Her last performance was an appearance on the early 2000s sitcom “One on One”.
Off screen, Julien was also an author, sculptor and fashion designer. He is survived by his wife Arabella Chavers Julien.