RIP Louis Gossette Jr.

Oscar winning actor Louis Gossette Jr has passed away at the age of 87. Gossett Jr., who took home an Academy Award for ‚ÄúAn Officer and a Gentleman‚ÄĚ and an Emmy for ‚ÄúRoots,‚ÄĚ both times playing a mature man who guides a younger one taking on a new role ‚ÄĒ but in drastically different circumstances ‚ÄĒ died early Friday in Santa Monica, Calif. ¬†Born in¬†Coney Island, Brooklyn, New York City, he made his stage debut at the age of 17. Shortly thereafter, he successfully auditioned for the¬†Broadway play¬†Take a Giant Step.¬†Gossett continued acting onstage in critically acclaimed plays including¬†A Raisin in the Sun¬†(1959),¬†The Blacks¬†(1961),¬†Tambourines to Glory¬†(1963), and¬†The Zulu and the Zayda¬†(1965). In 1977, Gossett appeared in the popular¬†miniseries¬†Roots, for which he won¬†Outstanding Lead Actor for a Single Appearance in a Drama or Comedy Series¬†at the¬†Emmy Awards.

Gossett continued acting in high-profile films, television, plays, and video games. In 1982, for his role as¬†Gunnery Sergeant¬†Emil Foley in¬†An Officer and a Gentleman, he won the¬†Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor¬†and became the first black actor to win in this category. At the Emmy Awards, Gossett continued to receive recognition, with nominations for¬†The Sentry Collection Presents Ben Vereen: His Roots¬†(1978),¬†Palmerstown, U.S.A.¬†(1981),¬†Sadat¬†(1983). Gossett appeared in 1985’s¬†Enemy Mine¬† with Dennis Quaid,¬†A Gathering of Old Men¬†(1987),¬†Touched by an Angel (1997), and¬† Watchmen¬†(2019). He won and was nominated at other ceremonies including the¬†Golden Globe Awards,¬†Black Reel Awards, and¬†NAACP Image Awards. Gossett was also well-known for his role as Colonel Chappy Sinclair in the¬†Iron Eagle¬†film series (1986-1995).

His television appearances include Bonanza (1971), The Jeffersons (1975), American Playhouse (1990),  Stargate SG-1 (2005), Left Behind: World at War (2005), Boardwalk Empire (2013), and The Book of Negroes (2015). Gossett was married three times and fathered one son and adopted one son. Gossett struggled with a debilitating illness during the 1990s and early 2000s, having been given a prognosis of six months to live from a doctor at one stage. In 2001, he learned much of his illness was due to toxic mold in his Malibu home. On February 9, 2010, Gossett announced that he had prostate cancer. He added the disease was caught in its early stages, and he expected to make a full recovery. In late December 2020, Gossett was hospitalized in Georgia with COVID-19.

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