“Superfly” Star Was Iconic, But Died With Very Little Fanfare From Serious Illness

So we all remember this “Superfly” cat, ‘Priest’ in the popular film “Superfly.” He did have a small recurring role on the TV show “Living Single” as ‘Synclaire’s’ father. Other than that, we haven’t heard much from actor, Ron O’Neal. He was not only an actor, but also a director and screenwriter.

After “Superfly” was released, O’Neal was outspoken about the criticism that the film received for giving a stereotypical view of African Americans and glorifying crime. Scroll down to see how he think people missed the point of the film and how he passed away.

O’Neal said that the point of the film was missed and that ‘Youngblood Priest’ got into his drug-pushing life, not out of choice, but because of his social and economic position, and that he “actually wants out of the business after one last big score.”

In order to address some of the criticism leveled at “Superfly,” O’Neal directed and starred in the sequel, “Superfly T.N.T.” (1973), transplanting ‘Youngblood Priest’ from Harlem to a small African country, and getting him to fight for the greater good.

Although his face is a big part of popular culture, especially within the African American community, he was surely an actor who didn’t receive much fanfare when he passed about in 2004. Ron O’Neal died in 2004 of pancreatic cancer at the age of 66 on the same day “Superfly” was released on DVD in the US.

Before his death, O’Neal’s career never fully recovered, and, after the 1970s, he found it difficult to make the transition from blaxploitation movies into more mainstream films. “Outside New York, people assumed I really was a hustler,” he told an interviewer in 1979. “Superfly took me from relative obscurity, but I haven’t been offered that many roles since.” (Source)