By Frederick H. Lowe, BlackmansStreet.Today
John Singleton, who was nominated for an Oscar for his masterpiece “Boyz n the Hood,” died Monday after suffering a stroke, which occurs when blood flow to the brain is cut off.
Singleton’s death was announced by his family, which had been feuding over how to address and what to disclose about his condition. They finally agreed to take him off life support on Monday, and he died a few hours later in Cedars -Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. He suffered the stroke on April 17 and died on April 29. He was 51.
“We are sad to relay that John Singleton has died. John passed away peacefully, surrounded by his family and friends. We want to thank the amazing doctors at Cedars-Sinai Hospital for their expert care and kindness, and we again want to thank all of John’s fans, friends and colleagues for the all of the love and support they showed him during this difficult time,” the Singleton family said in a statement.
Singleton, a native of Los Angeles, won rave reviews for “Boyz n the Hood,” a spellbinding film released in 1991 about the challenges young black men faced living in neighborhoods located in South Central Los Angeles crippled by drugs and violence.
Singleton was born January 6, 1968, in South Central L.A. and he grew up there. He wrote a screenplay about the neighborhood as his thesis while a student at the University of Southern California Film School. He was the first African-American director nominated for an Oscar. At the time, he was 24.
The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences also nominated the screenplay for an Oscar. He was 25.
The film starred Ice Cube, Cuba Gooding Jr. and Laurence Fishburne, who was cast as Cuba Gooding’s father, a rarity then and now in Hollywood.
Roger Ebert, the late Chicago Sun-Times film critic, called “Boyz n the Hood” a brilliant directorial debut and a film of enormous importance.
Singleton’s film cast included other unknowns who later blossomed into stars. Three were: Angela Bassett, Nia Long and Regina King, who won the 2018 Oscar for best-supporting actress for her role in “If Beale Street Could Talk,” based on the novel by James Baldwin.
He also directed “The Race Card,” an episode of the FX 2016 miniseries “The People Versus O.J. Simpson,” which focused on racist L.A. police detective Mark Fuhrman who lied on the witness stand in a failed attempt a convict O.J. Simpson. He also directed episodes of the television series “Empire.” Taraji P. Henson, star of the television series, v
When he presented the screenplay for “Boyz n the Hood” to financial backers, they asked him how he would feel if someone else directed it. He boldly told them that the conversation with him would be over if they pursued that strategy. “I wasn’t going to have someone from Idaho or Encino, a section of Los Angeles, direct this movie,” Singleton said at the 25th anniversary of the film’s screening.
Although 80 percent of strokes can be prevented, black men suffer from strokes at a younger age than white men, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, because of high blood pressure. News reports said the 5’ 6” Singleton struggled with high blood pressure, which is common among black men.
Singleton is survived by his five children and his parents.