Beloved actor Louis Gossett Jr., dead at age 87

By Mariana Smithfield


Lou Gossett Jr. at the Guadalajara Film Festival in 2009. By Festival Internacional de Cine en Guadalajara, CC BY 2.0, https


Louis Cameron Gossett Jr. (May 27, 1936 – March 29, 2024) was an American actor. Born in Coney Island, Brooklyn, New York City, he made his stage debut at the age of 17. Shortly thereafter, he successfully auditioned for the Broadway play Take a Giant Step. Gossett continued acting onstage in critically acclaimed plays including A Raisin in the Sun (1959), The Blacks (1961), Tambourines to Glory (1963), and The Zulu and the Zayda (1965). In 1977, Gossett appeared in the popular miniseries Roots, for which he won Outstanding Lead Actor for a Single Appearance in a Drama or Comedy Series at the Emmy Awards.

Gossett continued acting in high-profile films, television, plays, and video games. In 1982, for his role as Gunnery Sergeant Emil Foley in An Officer and a Gentleman, he won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor and became the first African-American actor to win in this category. At the Emmy Awards, Gossett continued to receive recognition, with nominations for The Sentry Collection Presents Ben Vereen: His Roots (1978), Backstairs at the White House (1979), Palmerstown, U.S.A. (1981), Sadat (1983), A Gathering of Old Men (1987), Touched by an Angel (1997), and Watchmen (2019). He won and was nominated at other ceremonies including the Golden Globe AwardsBlack Reel Awards, and NAACP Image Awards.[3] Gossett was also well-known for his role as Colonel Chappy Sinclair in the Iron Eagle film series (1986-1995).

Gossett’s other film appearances include Hal Ashby‘s The Landlord (1970), Paul Bogart‘s Skin Game (1971), George Cukor‘s Travels with My Aunt (1972), Stuart Rosenberg‘s The Laughing Policeman (1974), Philip Kaufman‘s The White Dawn (1974), Peter Yates‘s The Deep (1977), Wolfgang Petersen‘s Enemy Mine (1985), Christopher Cain‘s The Principal (1987), Mark Goldblatt‘s The Punisher (1989), and Daniel Petrie‘s Toy Soldiers (1991), and his television appearances include Bonanza (1971), The Jeffersons (1975), American Playhouse (1990), Stargate SG-1 (2005), Boardwalk Empire (2013), and The Book of Negroes (2015).

Gossett died at a rehabilitation center in Santa Monica, California, on March 29, 2024, at the age of 87. No cause of death was given.