Louis Gossett Jr. Dies: Know More About His Exciting Life

Louis Gossett Jr., the first Black man to win an Oscar for supporting actor and an Emmy for “Roots,” gone at the age of 87. His cousin Neal L. Gossett confirmed the news. The family statement mentioned he died Friday in Santa Monica, California.

No cause of death was given. Neal recalled Louis as a man who walked with Nelson Mandela and loved telling jokes. He faced racism with dignity and humor.

His cousin said, “Think no more of the awards, cool stuff, like Rolls-Royces and big houses in Malibu. It’s about the people he cared for.” Louis Gossett Jr. thought his early career was like a backwards Cinderella story. Success came early, leading to his Academy Award for “An Officer and a Gentleman.”

Gossett became famous as Fiddler in the 1977 series “Roots.” It showed the bad parts of slavery on TV. The cast had many big names like Ben Vereen, LeVar Burton, and John Amos.

In 1983, Gossett was nominated for an Oscar. He won for playing a tough Marine drill instructor in “An Officer and a Gentleman.” He acted alongside Richard Gere and Debra Winger and also got a Golden Globe for that role.

He said winning was a big deal for him as a Black actor.In his 2010 memoir he wrote about it, “An Actor and a Gentleman.”

A Fortunate Break

Discovering Acting Early: He got his first acting chance in high school after an injury kept him off the basketball team.

Hooked from the Start: He fell in love with acting in his school play.

Broadway Debut: At just 16, he landed a role in “Take a Giant Step” in Manhattan.

Fearless Debut: Despite his lack of experience, he wasn’t nervous on stage.

College Years: He attended New York University on a scholarship, balancing basketball and drama.

Television Stardom: He appeared on various TV shows, gaining recognition. Famous Friends: He befriended James Dean and studied with renowned actors.

In 1959, Gossett did great in “A Raisin in the Sun” on Broadway. He starred with Sidney Poitier, Ruby Dee, and Diana Sands. Later, he became a Broadway star. In 1964 he took over from Billy Daniels in “Golden Boy” with Sammy Davis Jr. 

Encountering Racism in LA

Gossett first came to Hollywood in 1961 for “A Raisin in the Sun.” He stayed in a bad motel because few places accepted Black people.

In 1968, he came back for “Companions in Nightmare.” This time, he stayed at the Beverly Hills Hotel and got a fancy car from Universal Studios.

But, driving back to the hotel, a sheriff stopped him. The sheriff told him to lower the radio and put up the car’s roof.

Then, eight more sheriffs stopped him. They made him lean on the car and open the trunk. They called the car rental assistant before letting him go.

Gossett wrote in his memoir that he felt terrible when treated badly because he was Black and drove a fancy car. He got stopped by police while walking in Beverly Hills. They said he broke a law. They tied him to a tree and handcuffed him for three hours. He felt racism was ugly but wouldn’t ruin him.

In the 1990s, police stopped him while driving his car. They thought he looked like someone they were searching for. He founded the Eracism Foundation to fight racism.

A Lucky Escape from the Manson Family

Gossett did some acting on TV shows. He partied with the Mamas and the Papas. They got invited to Sharon Tate’s house. Gossett left early to shower. When he was about to leave, he saw on TV that Tate was murdered by Charles Manson’s gang. He felt lucky to have avoided that danger.

Louis Cameron Gossett Jr. was born in Brooklyn, New York, date of birth {May 27, 1936}. His parents were Louis Sr., who worked as a porter, and Hellen, who was a nurse. He added “Jr.” to his name to honor his father.

In the book “50 Oscar Nights” by Dave Karger, Gossett talked about how winning an Oscar helped him get better roles in movies like “Enemy Mine,” “Sadat,” and “Iron Eagle.”

He mentioned that his Oscar statue was kept in storage. Gossett decided to donate it to a library so he wouldn’t have to worry about it anymore. He wanted to feel free from its presence.

Louis Gossett Jr. Challenges and Struggles

Louis Gossett Jr. starred in TV movies like “The Story of Satchel Paige” and “The Josephine Baker Story.” He won a Golden Globe for the latter. Despite winning an Oscar, he felt his roles were always in the background. In 2023, he played a stubborn dad in “The Color Purple” remake.

Gossett fought with alcohol and cocaine addiction for years after his big win. He went to rehab and got diagnosed with toxic mold syndrome, blaming it on his Malibu house.

In 2010, Gossett said he had prostate cancer, caught it early. In 2020, he got COVID-19, went to the hospital. He has two sons: Satie, a producer-director, and Sharron, a chef he adopted when he saw him on TV.

His cousin is actor Robert Gossett. Louis Gossett Jr. first marriage got annulled and second marriage to Christina Mangosing, ended in 1975. His third marriage, to actor Cyndi James-Reese, ended in 1992.

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