Louis Gossett Jr., Oscar Winning Actor Dead At 87

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 08: Actor Louis Gossett Jr. attends the Art For Amnesty Pre-Golden Globes Recognition Brunch at Chateau Marmont on January 8, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by John Sciulli/Getty Images for Amnesty International USA)
(Photo by John Sciulli/Getty Images for Amnesty International USA)

OAN’s James Meyers
11:14 AM -Friday, March 29, 2024

Louis Gossett Jr., the first Black man to win an Oscar as a supporting actor, has died at the age of 87. 


According to his nephew, Gossett died Thursday night in Santa Monica, California. His cause of death has not revealed.

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

Gossett’s acting career lasted almost sixty years, appearing in dozens of movies and television shows, including “The Deep” (1977), and earning himself an Academy Award for “An Officer and a Gentleman” (1982).

The actor began his career on Broadway, debuting at the young age of 16 with a role in “Take a Giant Step.”

“I knew too little to be nervous,” Gossett wrote in his 2010 memoir, “An Actor and a Gentleman.” “In retrospect, I should have been scared to death as I walked onto that stage, but I wasn’t.”

Gossett attended New York University before taking off in his acting career. 

He won an Emmy for playing the old slave Fiddler in the seminal ABC miniseries “Roots” (1977), acting in three of the show’s eight episodes. 

The most famous roles Gossett was known for were “An Officer and a Gentleman,” “Roots” and “Enemy Mine.”

Gossett became the third Black Oscar nominee in the supporting actor category in 1983, winning it for his intimidating performance as the intimidating Marine drill instructor in “An Officer and a Gentleman” opposite famed actors Richard Gere and Debra Winger.

“More than anything, it was a huge affirmation of my position as a Black actor,” he wrote in his memoir.

“The Oscar gave me the ability of being able to choose good parts in movies like ‘Enemy Mine,’ ‘Sadat’ and ‘Iron Eagle,’” Gossett said in Dave Karger’s 2024 book “50 Oscar Nights.”

Gossett also battled multiple illnesses throughout his life. He went to rehab for substance abuse and eventually was diagnosed with toxic mold syndrome. Then tragedy struck in 2010, after revealing he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer. In 2020, the actor also spent time in the hospital for COVID-19.

Gossett, towards the end of his career, stared as Ol’ Mister Johnson in the 2023 film musical version of “The Color Purple.” Additionally, he has a voice over part in the animated movie “IF,” scheduled for release this May. 

Meanwhile, the famed actor is survived by sons Satie, a producer-director from his second marriage, and Sharron whom he adopted at the age of seven-years-old. 

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