Louis Gossett Jr., 'An Officer and a Gentleman' Star, Dead at 87

Gossett was the first Black man to win a supporting actor Oscar.

Louis Gossett Jr. has died. The actor, best known for his roles in An Officer and a Gentleman and Roots, died of causes yet to be announced. He was 87.

"Never mind the awards, never mind the glitz and glamor, the Rolls-Royces and the big houses in Malibu," Gossett's cousin, Neal L. Gossett, told The Associated Press. "It's about the humanity of the people that he stood for."

In a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, Gossett's family added, "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."

Gossett, who previously revealed his prostate cancer battle, made his Broadway debut in Take a Giant Step when he was in high school. He went on to star in A Raisin in the Sun, a role that he played first on Broadway and then again in the 1961 film adaptation.

Then, on Roots, a 1977 miniseries about slavery, Gossett earned a Emmy Award for his portrayal of Fiddler. The awards continued in 1983, when he became the first Black man to win a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for An Officer and a Gentleman. Throughout his career, Gossett also won two Golden Globes and was nominated for seven additional Emmys.

Gossett's notable film roles include Enemy MineIron Eagle and The DeepOn TV, he appeared on series including Boardwalk EmpireMadam SecretaryERWatchmen and Extant.

He last appeared in the 2023 remake of The Color Purple and on the TV series Kingdom Business.

In a statement to ET, Taylor Hackford, who directed An Officer and a Gentleman, remembered Gossett.

"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," Hackford said. "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 Sargent 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," his statement continued. "Lou Gossett's Sargent 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."

Dionne Warwick, Gossett's longtime personal and artistic friend, told ET, "Another dear one has made his transition.  Lou was set to play the role of my grandfather in the proposed feature film of my life. I will miss my friend and send heartfelt condolences to his family."

Throughout his life, Gossett was married and divorced three times. He is survived by Satie and Sharron, his adult sons.



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