Louis Gossett Jr., ‘An Officer And A Gentleman’ Oscar Winner & ‘Roots’ Star, Dead At 87

Louis Gossett Jr., an Oscar and Emmy winner known for his roles in “An Officer and a Gentleman,” “Roots” and more, has died. He was 87 years old.

Gossett’s family shared the sad news in a statement to Access Hollywood through the actor’s publicist on Friday, confirming “with heartfelt regret” that he had passed away that morning.

“We would like to thank everyone for their condolences at this time. Please respect the family’s privacy during this difficult time,” the message read in part.

A cause of death was not immediately made public.

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Gossett’s cousin, Neal L. Gossett, told the Associated Press that he died in Santa Monica, Calif., and noted that his legacy holds much more than his success on screen.

“Never mind the awards, never mind the glitz and glamor, the Rolls-Royces and the big houses in Malibu. It’s about the humanity of the people that he stood for,” Neal told the outlet.

Gossett became the first Black artist to win the Best Supporting Actor Academy Award for his work in 1982’s “An Officer and a Gentleman,” in which he portrayed a strict drill sergeant opposite Richard Gere and Debra Winger.

He earned fame and accolades with a breakthrough role in the trailblazing TV miniseries “Roots” five years earlier, also taking home an Emmy.

His most recent film credit is 2023’s “The Color Purple” remake starring Fantasia Barrino and Oscar nominee Danielle Brooks, and he earned an Emmy nomination for HBO’s acclaimed series “‘Watchmen” in 2020.

Born in 1936, Gossett’s performing career began on stage with notable turns alongside legends including Sidney Poitier in “A Raisin in the Sun.” The pair went on to star together in the film version of the production as well.

Gossett is survived by his two sons, Satie and Sharron.

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