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Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s first democratically elected black president and a crusader against apartheid, died Thursday in his suburban Johannesburg home. He was 95. He had been receiving in-home intensive care since leaving the hospital on Sept. 1 after being admitted in June for a lung infection.
Mandela was an inspiration to many, including some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry, who quickly took to Twitter and Instagram to mourn his passing.
The former president has been portrayed onscreen by Morgan Freeman, Danny Glover, Terrence Howard, Sidney Poitier and Dennis Haysbert among others. His life is also the subject of Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, starring Idris Elba, The Weinstein Co.’s awards contender that was released in select theaters on Nov. 29.
“One of the privileges of making movies is having the opportunity to immortalize those who have made a profound impact on humanity,” TWC co-chairman Harvey Weinstein said in a statement. “We count ourselves unspeakably fortunate to have been immersed in Nelson Mandela’s story and legacy. It’s been an honor to have been granted such proximity to a man who will go down as one of history’s greatest freedom fighters and advocates for justice. I have had the privilege of spending time with President Mandela and I can say his sense of humor was as great as his optimism. We are deeply saddened by his loss; our hearts go out to his family and the entire South African nation.”
Added Elba: “What an honor it was to step into the shoes of Nelson Mandela and portray a man who defied odds, broke down barriers, and championed human rights before the eyes of the world. My thoughts and prayers are with his family.”
Freeman, who played Mandela in Clint Eastwood‘s 2009 rugby drama Invictus, said: “Today the world lost one of the true giants of the past century. Nelson Mandela was a man of incomparable honor, unconquerable strength and unyielding resolve — a saint to many, a hero to all who treasure liberty, freedom and the dignity of humankind. As we remember his triumphs, let us, in his memory, not just reflect on how far we’ve come, but on how far we have to go. Madiba may no longer be with us, but his journey continues on with me and with all of us.”
Denzel Washington said: “Pauletta and I are honored and humbled to call Nelson Mandela a friend of our entire family. He will continue to live through all of us as a symbol of hope, faith and strength.”
Oprah Winfrey said: “One of the great honors of my life was to be invited to Nelson Mandela’s home, spend private time and get to know him. He was everything you’ve ever heard and more – humble and unscathed by bitterness. And he always loved to tell a good joke. Being in his presence was like sitting with grace and majesty at the same time.”
Quincy Jones honored the late leader: “Today, as it did while he inhabited our planet, Nelson Mandela’s spirit truly soars with the angels. It was a spirit born of a generosity, love, compassion and hope for mankind that may never exist at such a heightened level in any single human being again. One of the most profound honors that I have had in my life was to be able to call ‘Madiba’ my friend and brother.”
Paul Simon added: “Mandela was one of the great leaders and teachers of the 20th century. He conceived a model for mortal enemies to overcome their hatred and find a way through compassion to rebuild a nation based on truth, justice and the power of forgiveness. His passing should reignite a worldwide effort for peace.”
Long Walk to Freedom producer Anant Singh said in a statement: “We have lost our father, an exceptional human being, a hero to the world. There has never been anyone quite like him and there will never be. We should be inspired by his life and celebrate him with our love. We will all miss him dearly. Our love, thoughts and prayers are with Mama Winnie, Mrs. Machel, Zenani, Zindzi, Maki and the entire Mandela family during this difficult time.”
Noted singer Dionne Warwick: “He amazingly lived what I was taught as a child, that we human beings have truly been put on this Earth to be of service to one another and through this comes the joy, peace and harmony we all desire.”
He was also honored by Law & Order‘s Richard Brooks, who said: “Nelson Mandela was a great man who changed the world and my life forever by showing the power of love and truth in the most impossible of circumstances. His spirit lives on in me and in all of us. He will be surely missed. Long live Mandela!” In Loving Color‘s Tommy Davidson said “We may have lost a sense of true global freedom forever if we as a human race don’t learn from his legacy.”
Dennis Haysbert recalled playing Mandela: “Portraying Nelson Mandela, in the film Goodbye Bafana was a defining moment in my life and my career. We as a society, have been blessed to live in a time that Nelson Mandela has lived, loved, and led. What he has done for his country, his countrymen, and everyone on this planet may not be achieved again. ever. I will always honor him as a saint.”
Aretha Franklin: “What a sad day that such a great man has passed on and moved on up a little higher. Most extraordinary was how he rose above his being imprisoned and exalted himself above apartheid and hatred to unite the country, an unbelievable example of humanitarianism and courage.”
Muhammad Ali: “What I will remember most about Mr. Mandela is that he was a man whose heart, soul and spirit could not be contained or restrained by racial and economic injustices, metal bars or the burden of hate and revenge.”
Take a look at what actors, musicians, executives and media personalities are saying about the late icon on social media.
Oh Mandela, rest in peaceful freedom.
— olivia wilde (@oliviawilde) December 5, 2013
Mandela is gone. There is no one else like him.
— Anderson Cooper (@andersoncooper) December 5, 2013
I remember Soweto. Election day 1994. Standing in line with elderly South Africans voting for the first time in their lives. #Mandela
— Anderson Cooper (@andersoncooper) December 5, 2013
R.I.P. Nelson Mandela. Humanity at its absolute best.
— Albert Brooks (@AlbertBrooks) December 5, 2013
Nelson Mandela. What a difference one person can make. #RestEternally
— LL COOL J (@llcoolj) December 5, 2013
I think it’s safe to say Nelson Mandela is a first ballot Hall of Famer!!! That’s a man for you right there!!! #RipNelsonMandela
— Kevin Connolly (@mrkevinconnolly) December 5, 2013
Wow. RIP Nelson Mandela. “After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.”
— Randy Jackson (@YO_RANDYJACKSON) December 5, 2013
Huge sadness for the loss of Nelson Mandela, a sterling example of human greatness and achievement.
— Emile Hirsch (@EmileHirsch) December 5, 2013
RIP Nelson Mandela. Selfless humanitarian. Leader.
— Wayne Brady (@waynebrady) December 5, 2013
— Michael Rapino (@rapino99) December 5, 2013
1 was convinced Nelson Mandela would NEVER get out of prison. When he did, and became President, I decided right then anything was possible.
— Michael Moore (@MMFlint) December 5, 2013
My thoughts and love go out to the Mandela family. Rest in Peace Madiba. You will be missed, but your impact on this world will live forever
— Charlize Theron (@CharlizeAfrica) December 5, 2013
RIP Nelson Mandela. Hero. Freedom Fighter. An iron will and a heart of mercy. Thanks for your struggle and your example.
— Tom Morello (@tmorello) December 5, 2013
Today we lost the world’s greatest advocate for peace and change. Nelson Mandela was a hero to so many. Rest in peace.
— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) December 5, 2013
The mission to FREE Mandela was woven into the blueprint of PublicEnemy using RAP & Hip Hop to recognize THIS MAN RIP pic.twitter.com/UH7gl0cTAJ
— Chuck D (@MrChuckD) December 5, 2013
Rest in Peace Mr. Nelson Mandela. A fearless leader, incredible human being, inspiration, a REAL hero. Truly one of a kind. God bless you.
— Jamie Foxx (@iamjamiefoxx) December 5, 2013
You have to love the Mandela life.
— Steve Martin (@SteveMartinToGo) December 5, 2013
“Your playing small does not serve the world. Who are you not to be great?” ? Nelson Mandela RIP. We are so grateful to you and for you.
— Troian (@SleepintheGardn) December 5, 2013
“A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination.” #RIPNelsonMandela
— Lindsay Lohan (@lindsaylohan) December 5, 2013
— Katie Couric (@katiecouric) December 5, 2013
So sad to hear about Nelson Mandela. Rest in peace.
— Simon Cowell (@SimonCowell) December 5, 2013
“To be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” RIPNelsonMandela
— oliviamunn (@oliviamunn) December 5, 2013
Nelson Mandela, rest in peace. What an unbelievable legacy…
— Neil Patrick Harris (@ActuallyNPH) December 5, 2013
— Kevin Hart (@KevinHart4real) December 5, 2013
Rest in peace, Nelson Mandela. A man both good and great.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 5, 2013
Nelson Mandela and myself had a wonderful relationship–he was a special man and will be missed. http://t.co/GVziRpWbkB
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 5, 2013
I’m so very deeply saddened to hear of the death of Nelson Mandela. We have lost one of humanity’s greatest champions.
— The Real Paula Abdul (@PaulaAbdul) December 5, 2013
news we have dreaded for so long nelson mandela is gone will never be anyone like HIM. He changed the world best of all he changed hearts
— Gayle King (@GayleKing) December 5, 2013
Nelson Mandela, you taught us all how to fight and how to forgive. You will be missed, but your legacy… http://t.co/WjqzfLtSNe
— solange knowles (@solangeknowles) December 5, 2013
The world is a sadder place now that Nelson Mandela has been asked to join our Lord in heaven. His memory and lessons will live forever.
— Nicholas Sparks (@NicholasSparks) December 5, 2013
March ’99: Michael & I met Nelson Mandela in Joh’burg. I also had the honor of twice performing for ‘Madeba’ in ’98. Career highlight.
— Jermaine Jackson (@jermjackson5) December 5, 2013
“To be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” – Nelson Mandela
— Channing Tatum (@channingtatum) December 5, 2013
One of our GREATEST leaders… Thank you for BEING the true meaning of compassion. May you be at peace now. #RIPNelsonMandela
— Justin Timberlake (@jtimberlake) December 5, 2013
I will never forget my friend Madiba. pic.twitter.com/UX21ZZG7cg
— Bill Clinton (@billclinton) December 5, 2013
Just saw the news#RIPNelsonMandela. “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” ? Nelson Mandela
— Cameron (@CameronDiaz) December 6, 2013
Nelson Mandela – an actual superhero. Rest in Peace.
— Marc Webb (@MarcW) December 6, 2013
— Leonardo DiCaprio (@LeoDiCaprio) December 6, 2013
It is such a sad yet beautiful moment that Nelson Mandela has passed. A time to celebrate him & remember his contributions to humankind.
— Lady Gaga (@ladygaga) December 6, 2013
Nelson Mandela… the definition of grace, dignity and inspiration. His light will shine on. May he rest in peace. @Deborra_lee
— Hugh Jackman (@RealHughJackman) December 6, 2013
How does someone like Mandela simply die like the rest of us? After his life of triumph, the grave almost seemed no match. #RIPNelsonMandela
— KevinSmith (@ThatKevinSmith) December 6, 2013
— Emily VanCamp (@EmilyVanCamp) December 6, 2013
God Bless You Mr. Nelson Mandela! Your Strength, Humanity, Intelligence, Honesty and #TrueGrit are unmatched in my lifetime! RIP&Love
— Queen Latifah (@IAMQUEENLATIFAH) December 6, 2013
Ive read books on #Mandela, watched movies about him and yet hearing people talk about him now is still giving me chills.
— Dan Abrams (@danabrams) December 6, 2013
Photo: Nelson Mandela with Ronan Farrow: how to make a better world pic.twitter.com/1N4rFuse7X
— mia farrow (@MiaFarrow) December 6, 2013
“It always seems impossible until it’s done.” – Nelson Mandela. RIP. pic.twitter.com/dTGqaTkLpl
— Ronan Farrow (@RonanFarrow) December 6, 2013
Nelson Mandela was a true inspiration to all humanity. He will truly be missed.
— Britney Spears (@britneyspears) December 6, 2013
If ever there was someone who’s epitaph shouldn’t be reduced to “RIP”, it’s Nelson Mandela. His spirit was a weapon for change and love.
— Rob Lowe (@RobLowe) December 6, 2013
The world lost one of its greatest souls. Mandela left us w/ immeasurable gifts! My prayers go 2 his family & South Africa.We Love u Madiba!
— Forest Whitaker (@ForestWhitaker) December 5, 2013
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