BREAKING: Oscar Winning Actor Louis Gossett Jr. dies at 87

BREAKING: Oscar Winning Actor Louis Gossett Jr. dies at 87

Los Angeles (AP)— Louis Gossett Jr., the first Black supporting actor Oscar and Emmy winner for the TV miniseries “Roots,” died. He was 87.

First cousin Neal L. Gossett informed The Associated Press that the actor died in Santa Monica. The family reported Gossett's death Friday morning. The reason of death was unknown.

Gossett's cousin recalls a man who marched with Nelson Mandela and was a superb joke teller, fighting prejudice with dignity and humor.

Never mind the prizes, glitz, glamor, Rolls-Royces, and Malibu mansions. "He stood for the humanity of the people," his cousin remarked.

Louis Gossett always saw his early career as a reverse Cinderella narrative, with success finding him early and driving him toward his Academy Award for “An Officer and a Gentleman.”

Gossett made his TV debut as Fiddler in the 1977 miniseries “Roots,” which showed slavery's miseries. The large cast includes Ben Vereen, LeVar Burton, and John Amos.

Gossett was 1983's third Black supporting actor Oscar nominated. In “An Officer and a Gentleman” with Richard Gere and Debra Winger, he played the fearsome Marine drill instructor and won. The same role earned him a Golden Globe.

"More than anything, it was a huge affirmation of my position as a Black actor," he said in his 2010 biography, “An Actor and a Gentleman.”

While injured on the basketball team, he made his acting debut in his Brooklyn high school's production of “You Can't Take It with You”.

“I was hooked — and so was my audience,” he writes in his memoir.

His English instructor advised him to audition for “Take a Giant Step” in Manhattan. He made his Broadway debut aged 16 in 1953.

“I knew too little to be nervous,” Gossett writes. “I should have been terrified as I walked onto that stage, but I wasn't.”

NBA and theater scholarship recipient Gossett attended NYU. He appeared on David Susskind, Ed Sullivan, Red Buttons, Merv Griffin, Jack Paar, and Steve Allen shows as an actor and singer.

Gossett befriended James Dean and studied acting alongside Marilyn Monroe, Martin Landau, and Steve McQueen at Frank Silvera's Actors Studio spinoff.

Gossett, Sidney Poitier, Ruby Dee, and Diana Sands were lauded for their roles in “A Raisin in the Sun” on Broadway in 1959.

He became a Broadway sensation in 1964, replacing Billy Daniels in “Golden Boy” opposite Sammy Davis Jr.

Gossett first visited Hollywood in 1961 to film “A Raisin in the Sun.” He regretted sleeping at a cockroach-infested motel, one of the few Black-friendly hotels.

NBC's first made-for-TV film, "Companions in Nightmare," starring Melvyn Douglas, Anne Baxter, and Patrick O'Neal, brought him back to Hollywood in 1968.

Gossett stayed at the Beverly Hills Hotel and hired a convertible from Universal Studios. A Los Angeles County sheriff's officer stopped him on his way back to the hotel after picking up the car and instructed him to turn down the radio and raise the roof.

He was stopped by eight sheriff's police within minutes, who made him lean against the car and open the trunk while calling the auto rental business before releasing him.

“Though I understood that I had no choice but to put up with this abuse, it was a terrible way to be treated, a humiliating way to feel,” Gossett writes in his memoir. “I realized this was happening because I was Black and had been showing off with a fancy car, which they thought I shouldn't drive.”

After eating at the hotel, he went for a walk and was detained by a police officer a block away for violating a Beverly Hills after-9 p.m. rule. Two more cops came, and Gossett said he was handcuffed and fastened to a tree for three hours. His release came when the first police vehicle returned.

“Now I had come face-to-face with racism, and it was an ugly sight,” he wrote. “But it wouldn't destroy me.”

Gossett stated authorities stopped his refurbished 1986 Rolls Royce Corniche II on the Pacific Coast Highway in the late 1990s. The cop recognized Gossett and departed after saying he looked like someone they were looking for.

To eliminate prejudice, he formed the Eracism Foundation.

Gossett guest-starred on “Bonanza,” “The Rockford Files,” “The Mod Squad,” “McCloud,” and famously alongside Richard Pryor on “The Partridge Family.”

Gossett was invited to Sharon Tate's residence in August 1969 after partying with the Mamas and Papas. His first stop was home to shower and change. The Tate murder news flashed on TV as he left. Charles Manson's gang killed her and others that night.

He stated, “There had to be a reason for my escaping this bullet.”

Louis Cameron Gossett was born in Coney Island, Brooklyn, on May 27, 1936, to porter Louis Sr. and nurse Hellen. Later, he added Jr. to commemorate his father.

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

He stated his statue was stored.

He claimed in the book, “I’m going to donate it to a library so I don’t have to keep an eye on it.” Need to be rid of it.”

The Story of Satchel Paige, Backstairs at the White House, “The Josephine Baker Story,” for which he won another Golden Globe, and “Roots Revisited” were among Gossett's TV films.

Despite earning an Oscar, he maintained his parts were always supporting.

He portrayed a stubborn dad in the 2023 version of “The Color Purple.”

After winning the Oscar, Gossett battled alcohol and cocaine addiction for years. He was diagnosed with toxic mold syndrome in rehab, blaming his Malibu home.

Gossett revealed he had early-stage prostate cancer in 2010. He was hospitalized with COVID-19 in 2020.

He is survived by sons Satie, a producer-director from his second marriage, and Sharron, a chef he adopted after witnessing the 7-year-old on a TV piece on needy youngsters. Actor Robert Gossett is his first cousin.

His first marriage to Hattie Glascoe was annulled. Second marriage to Christina Mangosing terminated in 1975; third to Cyndi James-Reese in 1992.

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