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Actor Louis Gossett Jr. Dies at the Age of 87

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Louis Gossett, Jr. at the 75th Academy Awards.

Louis Gossett, Jr. at the 75th Academy Awards. Credit/Provider: AMPAS.

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  • Actor Louis Gossett Jr. has died, aged 87.
  • He starred in movies including ‘An Officer and a Gentleman’ and ‘The Color Purple’.
  • Gossett Jr. won an Academy Award in 1983.

Louis Gossett Jr., the beloved, Academy Award and Emmy-winning actor, has died at the age of 87.

He’s being remembered for his acting work on stage and screens, but he was also an accomplished writer, producer and director who engaged in social activism and looked to make peoples’ lives better.

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Louis Gossett Jr.: Early Life and Career

Louis Gossett, Jr. in 'Iron Eagle'.

Louis Gossett, Jr. in ‘Iron Eagle’. Photo: TriStar Pictures.

Gossett was born May 27, 1936, in Brooklyn, New York. Gossett made his stage debut at 17 in a school production of ‘You Can’t Take It with You’. He’d soon successfully audition for the Broadway production ‘Take a Giant Step’, then perform in a star-making supporting role in the hit ‘A Raisin in the Sun’ in 1959.

A talented musician as well as an actor, he balanced his initial Broadway and other stage career with appearances at New York City folk clubs. He won acclaim appearing in the long-running show ‘Jean Genet’s The Blacks’ alongside James Earl Jones, Roscoe Lee Browne, Cicely Tyson, and more.

Louis Gossett Jr: Memorable TV and Movie Roles

Richard Gere and Louis Gossett, Jr. in 'An Officer and a Gentleman.'

(L to R) Richard Gere and Louis Gossett, Jr. in ‘An Officer and a Gentleman.’ Photo: Paramount Pictures.

On the small screen, Gossett began working in the late 1960s and early 1970s on series such as ‘The Invaders’ and ‘Daktari’, ‘Bonanza’, ‘Longstreet’, ‘The Mod Squad’ and ‘Good Times’.

His most famous TV role, though, was on acclaimed miniseries ‘Roots’, which earned him an Emmy. It would be just one highlight in a televisual career that continued through 2019’s adaptation of ‘Watchmen’.

Gossett had an incredibly long and successful career in movies, working since the 1960s almost non-stop, kicked off by reprising his ‘A Raisin in the Sun’ role in the 1961 movie version.

He’d go on to appear in movies such as ‘The Landlord’, ‘Skin Game’, ‘The Deep’, ‘Jaws 3-D’, ‘Iron Eagle’, ‘Enemy Mine’, 1989’s ‘The Punisher’ and more recently, last year’s musical adaptation of ‘The Color Purple’. He has several movies still to be released, including a voice in John Krasinski’s family friendly fantasy ‘IF’.

The crowning achievement of his career was as tough-as-nails Gunnery Sergeant Emil Foley in ‘An Officer and a Gentleman’. The role saw him become the first Black actor to win the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor, and he also scored a Golden Globe.

An Officer and a Gentleman

“Life gave him nothing, except the courage to win…and a woman to love.”

70

R2 hr 4 minJul 28th, 1982

Louis Gossett Jr. Remembered

Louis Gossett, Jr. and Candy Brown arrive at The 88th Oscars® at the Dolby® Theatre in Hollywood, CA on Sunday, February 28, 2016.

Louis Gossett, Jr. and Candy Brown arrive at The 88th Oscars® at the Dolby® Theatre in Hollywood, CA on Sunday, February 28, 2016. Credit/Provider: Sara Wood / ©A.M.P.A.S. Copyright: ©A.M.P.A.S.

Here is Gossett Jr.’s family’s statement on his passing:

“It is with our heartfelt regret to confirm our beloved father passed away this morning. We would like to thank everyone for their condolences at this time. Please respect the family’s privacy during this difficult time.”

Taylor Hackford, who directed Gossett Jr. to his Oscar in ‘An Officer and a Gentleman’, paid tribute:

“The role of Master Sargent Foley in ‘An Officer and A Gentlemen’ was written as a white man. When I visited the Navy Officers Flight Training Center in Pensacola, FLA, I discovered that many of the Drill Instructors there were men of color. I found it interesting that Black & Brown enlisted men had ‘make-or-break’ control over whether white college graduates would become officers and fighter pilots. At that moment I changed the casting profile for Sergeant Foley and started meeting actors of color. Lou Gossett came to see me –– I knew and admired his stage work. He told me that he’d served in the US Army as a Ranger, so in addition to being an accomplished actor, he knew military life –– I hired him on the spot. Louis’ Sergeant Foley may have been the first Black character in American cinema to have absolute authority over white characters. The Academy recognized his consummate performance by voting him an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. He definitely deserved it.”

Gossett Jr. is survived by sons Satie Gossett and Sharron, and his nephew, the actor Robert Gossett.

Louis Gossett Jr. presents during the live ABC Telecast of The 88th Oscars® at the Dolby® Theatre in Hollywood, CA on Sunday, February 28, 2016.

Louis Gossett Jr. presents during the live ABC Telecast of The 88th Oscars® at the Dolby® Theatre in Hollywood, CA on Sunday, February 28, 2016. Credit/Provider: Valerie Durant / ©A.M.P.A.S. Copyright: Scott Diussa.

Louis Gossett, Jr. Movies:

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