Actor Max Julien, best known as the star of the classic 1973 Blaxploitation film The Mack, has passed away. According to his wife Arabella Chavers Julien, he took his last breath early January 1, 2022. He was 88.
Quotes from The Mack have been played over and over again in other movies and by musicians, actors, and celebrities alike.
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, California. In the movie, he teams up with Pryor’s “Slim” character to build a criminal enterprise. The two navigate their journey and find opposition in the Black Nationalist efforts headed by Goldie’s brother, constant battles from racist law enforcement figures. “The Mack” has grown to become one of the most prominent classics of the blaxploitation era, with hip-hop artists and actors like Dr. Dre, Bill Bellamy, Public Enemy, LL Cool J, Ice Cube, and many more sampling audio from the film in their work.
“He’s still the hero to this day,” Julien said of Goldie in the 2002 documentary Mackin’ Ain’t Easy. “Because of that … indomitable spirit that he has, that ‘you cannot stop me,’ and ‘you cannot mash me down without me coming back at you.’”
The film first screened in mostly Black markets, where it was a huge hit. In a 2013 interview with the Los Angeles Times, Campus said that when the film was shown in Oakland, people stood up and started screaming at the screen by the first scene. “They never sat down. No one had shown that world — no one had portrayed the black underworld,” he said.
“During Julien’s decades-long career, he was known for being bold, honest and straightforward,” read a statement from his representative on TMZ. “He would live and speak his own truth both professionally and privately. He was thought of as a rare ‘man among men.’”
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