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Oscar Winning Actor Louis Gossett Jr., Known For Roots And An Officer And A Gentleman, Is Dead At 87

 BEVERLY HILLS, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 22: Louis Gossett Jr. during American Black Film Festival Honors Awards Ceremony at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on February 23, 2020 in Beverly Hills, California.
BEVERLY HILLS, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 22: Louis Gossett Jr. during American Black Film Festival Honors Awards Ceremony at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on February 23, 2020 in Beverly Hills, California.

Versatility is a skill that all of the best actors possess, and Academy Award winner Louis Gossett Jr. is certainly someone who had that to a tee. With roles ranging from a drill instructor in An Officer and a Gentleman to a role in the upcoming 2024 movie IF, his talents spanned as long of a range as his. Today we honor the Academy Award winner’s life and times, as we mourn Louis’ death, at the age of 87.

BEVERLY HILLS, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 22: Louis Gossett Jr. during American Black Film Festival Honors Awards Ceremony at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on February 23, 2020 in Beverly Hills, California.
BEVERLY HILLS, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 22: Louis Gossett Jr. during American Black Film Festival Honors Awards Ceremony at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on February 23, 2020 in Beverly Hills, California.

The AP reported Gossett’s passing last night, after receiving a statement from his cousin Neal L. Gossettt. No cause of death was revealed at the time of this announcement, though the Roots actor was previously diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2010, and had even battled COVID-19 in 2020.

What could be considered the crowning achievement of Louis Gossett Jr.’s career is not only his role as the hard nosed Sgt. Emil Foley in 1982’s An Officer and a Gentleman, but also the 1983 Oscar win that came as a result. Being the third Black actor to be nominated for an Academy Award, and the first to win Best Supporting Actor, Gossett would credit that night as opening many of the doors to roles the world at large also remembers him for.

In the world of the movies, this Coney Island born legend would see more action in projects like the Iron Eagle series, as well as the sci-fi drama Enemy Mine, co-starring with Dennis Quaid. That second title in particular is still considered by some to be one of the best Sci-Fi movies of all time, with Gossett playing the role of alien Jeriba Shigan under heavy prosthetics.

Television and stage were also a huge part of Louis Gossett Jr.’s career, thanks to legendary experiences like Roots, which won him Outstanding Actor for a Single Appearance in a Drama or Comedy Series at 1977’s Emmy Awards. Most recently, Gossett was also a part of the Watchmen cast that brought the famed Vertigo comic to life in a sequel series that followed up the legacy of the original Alan Moore text.

If it wasn’t for Louis becoming enamored with the stage in high school, leading him to Broadway in the 1953 production of Take a Giant Step, we may not have gotten to see him engage in such delights. Mixing in stints with shows like Chicago, as well as generous philanthropic efforts like starting the Eracism Foundation, Mr. Gossett’s legacy is one that will always stand as one that is truly well rounded.

Though he has passed on, we'll all still be able to revisit his legacy whenever we need its comfort, thanks to the indelible work he has left behind. Those who are curious will be able to partake in one of Louis' final performances, as part of the cast of IF, which is slated to open in theaters on May 17th. We here at CinemaBlend would like to send our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Louis Gossett Jr., as they navigate this time of remembrance and grief.