Star of ‘Roots’ and ‘An Officer and a Gentleman’ Dead at 87


Actor Louis Gossett Jr. has died, the actor’s family confirmed to multiple media outlets. The veteran star passed away Thursday night in Santa Monica, CA at 87 years old. A cause of death was not immediately clear. 

The longtime actor of stage and screen was widely revered in show business, and broke many racial barriers in Hollywood along the way. He was the first Black man to win an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor, which he earned for playing Gunnery Sergeant Emil Foley in 1982’s An Officer and a Gentleman. 

He first experienced breakout success on Broadway in productions like A Raisin in the Sun and Golden Boy. He made the transition to screen as Fiddler in the critically acclaimed TV miniseries Roots, for which he won an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor for a Single Appearance in a Drama or Comedy Series.

Gossett Jr. would go on to win a pair of Golden Globes and earn another seven Emmy nominations for his many roles. 

Born in Coney Island, Brooklyn, he got an early start to acting, and would pursue the craft for the entirety of his life. He battled prostate cancer in 2010, but made a full recovery. He most recently appeared in the Oscar-nominated remake of The Color Purple just last year. 

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