Max Julien, who significantly helped to launch the blaxploitation genre with his starring role as Goldie Mickens in The Mack, passed away on his birthday last Saturday, Variety reports.  He was 88 years old.

An official cause of death was not immediately released.

Born on Jan. 1, 1933, in Washington, D.C., Julien, a classically trained actor, began working on Off-Broadway productions and Shakespeare in the Park. His first on-screen roles were Psych-Out and Getting Straight. He landed his most prominent role in the 1973 cult classic The Mack. Co-starring Richard Pryor, Julien played John “Goldie” Mickens, an ex-convict who had big ambitions on becoming the biggest pimp in Oakland, Calif, by building a criminal conglomerate. Throughout his journey, Mickens faces opposition from racist police officers and Black Nationalists led by his own brother.

The Mack has become one of the most revered films of the blaxploitation era with hip hop icons Dr. Dre, UGK, and several others sampling dialogue from the film and songs from the soundtrack in their music.

Also in 1973, Julien wrote and co-produced Cleopatra Jones starring Tamara Dobson, which would become one of the most iconic characters of the blaxploitation era. As a screenwriter and producer, he served in both roles and also starred in the 1974 western Thomasine & Bushrod. For his work, he received an NAACP Image Award nomination for best writer of the year.

Julien also had roles in The Black Klansman, Psych-Out, Uptight, Mod Squad, Getting Straight, and How to Be Player.

A truly versatile artist, Julien was also an author, sculptor, and poet.

Comic book writer and film producer David F. Walker paid tribute to Julien on Instagram.

“I met Max in 1996,” Walker’s post read. “He was a great human being and we had so many amazing conversations. He was brilliant and hilarious and charismatic. R.I.P.”

We extend our prayers and deepest condolences to the family and friends of Max Julien.