Spike Lee, Ava DuVernay And More Pay Tribute To Melvin Van Peebles After He Died At 89

Melvin Van Peebles standing in front of a black background in Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song.

The world of cinema lost one of its titans recently, as famed actor/writer/director Melvin Van Peebles died at the age of 89. Truly a pioneer in black entertainment, it felt like there was no frontier the man couldn’t cross over into, leaving a legacy of diverse works for the world to remember him by. It’s this immense career that’s inspired fellow luminaries, such as Spike Lee, Ava DuVernay, and more, to pay tribute to him upon his passing.

Upon hearing the news that Melvin Van Peebles had died, Spike Lee posted his remembrance of the mythic entertainer on Instagram. Sharing a photo of a personally signed poster for Peebles’ 1971 classic Sweet Sweetback’s Badasssss Song, Spike Lee even had a story to tell about meeting Melvin Van Peebles. As you’ll read below, a young Lee received support from Peebles, through a visit to the set of his landmark film, Do the Right Thing:

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Through his career of many hats, Melvin Van Peebles showed the world his unique spin on things. With novels like La Permission, which would eventually be adapted by Peebles himself into 1967’s The Story of a Three-day Pass, his creative legacy flourished through multiple mediums. Even his acting gigs, in everything from his own movies to the TV adaptation of The Shining, put him on the map for several generations to enjoy. Which lead to When They See Us director Ava DuVernay offering a personal remembrance of just how inspirational Melvin Van Peebles truly was:

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Joining the ongoing tribute to Peebles’ legacy was none other than Barry Jenkins, who is currently in the middle of developing the prequel to Disney’s live-action remake of The Lion King. Jenkins’ message is another personal story of meeting Melvin Van Peebles in person. And from what you’ll read below, you can tell that Peebles’ joyful nature was as infectious as his talent:

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Perhaps the saddest remembrance of Melvin Van Peebles’ career has to be that of his son, Mario. Following in his father’s footsteps as a talented performer and artist, he even made a biopic about his father’s legacy, playing him in the aptly titled Baaddasss. Sharing his feelings in a video posted on social media, here’s what Mario Van Peebles had to say:

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All throughout the internet, the praises of Melvin Van Peebles’ life and legacy are being sung by those who admired him the most. Though he is no longer with us, the world will still feel his presence, especially wherever stories of his artistry and love of living can be found. We here at CinemaBlend would like to extend our deepest condolences to Peebles’ friends and family, as they endure this time of great grief.

Mike Reyes
Senior Movies Contributor

CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.