Louis Gossett Jr., Oscar-Winning ‘An Officer and a Gentleman’ Actor, Dies at 87

The actor won an Emmy for his role in “Roots” and was the first Black man to win the Best Supporting Actor Oscar

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Louis Gossett Jr., the first Black man to win the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role in 1982’s “An Officer and a Gentleman,” died Thursday night in Santa Monica, his nephew told the AP. The actor was 87.

The cause of death was not disclosed. In 2010, he revealed that he had prostate cancer.

Born in Brooklyn, Gossett Jr. got his start on the stage with roles in plays in the 1950s and 60s before breaking big with his role as Fiddler in the 1977 miniseries “Roots.” He won an Emmy for the performance.

In 1982, he made history with his Oscar-winning turn in “An Officer and a Gentleman.”

Gossett Jr.’s career was vast and varied — he appeared on classic sitcoms like “The Jeffersons,” starred in films from Hal Ashby (“The Landlord”), George Cukor (“Travels With My Aunt”) and Wolfgang Peterson (“Enemy Mine”) and earned seven Emmy nominations throughout his career, including for his role in HBO’s acclaimed “Watchmen” miniseries in 2020.

Most recently, Gossett Jr. starred in the musical adaptation “The Color Purple.” His final role comes in the form of a voice role in John Krasinski’s family film “IF,” opening in May.

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