John Singleton, ‘Boyz N the Hood’ Director, Dies at 51

John Singleton, whose powerful debut film, “Boyz N the Hood,” earned him an Oscar nomination for best director, the first for an African-American, died on Monday in Los Angeles. He was 51.

His death, at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, was confirmed in a family statement after he was taken off life support. Mr. Singleton had been admitted to the hospital on April 17, reportedly after having a stroke. His family said he had a history of hypertension.

His mother, Shelia Ward, said last week that he was in a coma and filed court papers asking to be appointed his temporary conservator. Several of his children at the time opposed her trying to take control of his medical and financial decision making and publicly disputed her assessment of his medical state.

“Boyz N the Hood,” a bleakly realistic film about three teenagers growing up amid gang violence in South Central Los Angeles, established Mr. Singleton’s credentials and placed him in the conversation with more established African-American directors like Spike Lee, Bill Duke, Julie Dash, Robert Townsend and Reginald Hudlin.

No black filmmaker has won the Oscar for best director. But when Mr. Lee won this year for best adapted screenplay, for “BlacKkKlansman,” Mr. Singleton was ecstatic.

“My brother Spike Lee just won his first Oscar,” Mr. Singleton wrote on Twitter. “I’m sooo happy!”

John Daniel Singleton was born on Jan. 6, 1968, in Los Angeles. His mother was a pharmaceutical sales executive, and his father, Danny Singleton, was a mortgage broker. He lived with his mother until he was 11 and then moved in with his father, on whom he based the character of Tre’s father (played by Laurence Fishburne) in “Boyz.”

John was influenced early on by movies like “Cooley High” (1975), a comedy-drama about high school friends living in the projects in Chicago, directed by Michael Schultz and starring Glynn Turman and Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs.

“The cinema saved me from being a delinquent,” he said.

He studied script writing at the University of Southern California’s School of Film-Television and wrote the “Boyz N the Hood” screenplay during his senior year.

He then showed it to Stephanie Allain, a script reader for two of Columbia Pictures’ top executives. At the time, he was being interviewed to succeed her. He didn’t get the job, but she loved the script and pushed for it to be acquired.

Before a deal was made, though, Mr. Singleton demanded, despite his inexperience, that he direct the film. Frank Price, the president of Columbia, agreed; he was especially impressed with Mr. Singleton’s audition tapes of Mr. Gooding and Ice Cube.

He is survived by his parents; his daughters Justice Singleton, Hadar Busia-Singleton, Cleopatra Singleton, Selenesol Singleton and Isis Singleton, and his sons, Maasai and Seven.

Mr. Singleton produced some of the films he directed, as well as other movies, like Craig Brewer’s “Hustle & Flow” (2005), which starred Terrence Howard, who earned an Oscar nomination for best actor. The film won an Oscar for best original song.

His most recent venture was “Snowfall,” a series on FX about the crack cocaine epidemic in Los Angeles in the 1980s. Mr. Singleton was one of the show’s creators and executive producers and directed three episodes.

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