by Abb Jones
The Reelness

Louis Gossett Jr., the first Black man to win a Supporting Actor Oscar for 1982’s An Officer and a Gentleman, has died at the age of 87.

Gossett’s nephew says the actor died Thursday night in Santa Monica, California. No cause of death has been revealed.

Richard Gere and Louis Gossett Jr. in 1982’s An Officer and a Gentleman

Born in 1936 in the Coney Island section of Brooklyn, New York, Gossett first gained fame in the groundbreaking 1977 TV miniseries Roots, which earned him an Emmy win as the cunning Fiddler in the miniseries’ depiction of the atrocities of slavery. Gossett said his Oscar win, as the intimidating Marine drill instructor in An Officer and a Gentleman, opposite Richard Gere and Debra Winger, affirmed him as a Black actor and gave him the ability to choose good parts in future films.

Levar Burton and Louis Gossett Jr. in 1977’s Roots

Gossett’s last onscreen role was as Ol’ Mister, the obstinate patriarch in the 2023 remake of The Color Purple. He is survived by two sons.


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