Oscar-Winning Actor Louis Gossett Jr. Passes Away At 87

Oscar-Winning Actor Louis Gossett Jr. Passes Away At 87


Louis Gossett Jr., photo via Instagram

Louis Gossett Jr., the legendary actor known for his groundbreaking performances in “An Officer and a Gentleman” and “Roots,” has passed away at the age of 87.

His nephew confirmed to the Associated Press that Gossett died on March 29 during the morning in Santa Monica, California. While the cause of death has not been disclosed, Gossett had publicly revealed his battle with prostate cancer in 2010.

Black and African-American men are much more likely to develop prostate cancer. One in six Black men will develop prostate cancer in his lifetime—compared to one in eight men overall. Black men are 1.7 times more likely to be diagnosed with—and 2.1 times more likely to die from—prostate cancer than white men, according to Zero Prostate Cancer.

Gossett, a Brooklyn native, made history as the first Black man to win the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role as the steely Gunnery Sgt. Emil Foley in 1982’s “An Officer and a Gentleman.” He was the second Black man to win an acting Oscar, after Sidney Poitier in 1964.
In “An Officer and a Gentleman,” Gossett’s character, Sgt. Foley, mentors Richard Gere’s character, Zack Mayo, in a demanding officer candidate school.

Beyond his Oscar-winning role, Gossett’s illustrious career spanned decades, encompassing a wide range of memorable performances on stage and screen. He gained early recognition for his work on Broadway, including his role as George Murchison in the original production of Lorraine Hansberry’s “A Raisin in the Sun” (1959). In “Roots” (1977) he portrayed the beloved character Fiddler, a role that earned him an Emmy Award. Fiddler was an older slave who teaches a young Kunta Kinte (LeVar Burton) to speak English on the eight-part ABC miniseries. Gossett also starred in “The Punisher” in 1989, opposite Dolph Lundgren, and “Iron Eagle” in 1986 and its three sequels, The Hollywood Reporter reported.

Gossett got his acting start on Broadway in “Take a Giant Step” in 1953 — when he was still a student at Abraham Lincoln High School, People reported.

“‘They’re looking for a young, Black kid to play a lead in a Broadway show called ‘Take a Giant Step.’ They can’t find anybody in the business, so they’re going to the high schools. ‘Tell your mother to take you down there,'” he recalled in a 1991 conversation with Bob Costas. “So, that’s how I got in show business.”

Gossett attended New York University and acted in Broadway’s “The Desk Set” in 1955 and 1956. His film debut came with 1961’s “A Raisin in the Sun,” which has been entered into the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.

Throughout his career, Gossett’s contributions to the arts extended beyond acting. He was also a talented folk musician and athlete.

Louis Gossett Jr., photo via Instagram, https://www.instagram.com/jr.louisgossett/?hl=en