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Actor Lou Gossett Jr.

Source: Bob Riha Jr / Getty

Louis Gossett Jr., the first Black man to win a supporting actor Oscar and an Emmy winner for his role in the seminal TV miniseries “Roots,” has died. He was 87.

According to sources, Gossett’s nephew told The Associated Press that the actor died Thursday night in Santa Monica, California. The cause of death was not revealed.

Louis Cameron Gossett was born on May 27, 1936, in the Coney Island section of Brooklyn, New York.

Gossett started his acting career early on, becoming apart of his Brooklyn high school’s production of “You Can’t Take It with You” while he was sidelined from the basketball team with an injury.

He spoke about this experience in his memoir, saying the thrill was addicting. His response from the crowd along with his  wonderful performance allowed him to find his newest passion.

“I was hooked — and so was my audience,” he wrote in his 2010 memoir “An Actor and a Gentleman.”

His performance was so good, that his English teacher encouraged him to go into Manhattan to try out for “Take a Giant Step.” He was casted and made his Broadway debut in 1953 at age 16.

Actor Lou Gossett Jr. Photo Session

Source: Bob Riha Jr / Getty

“I knew too little to be nervous,” Gossett wrote. “In retrospect, I should have been scared to death as I walked onto that stage, but I wasn’t.”

Gossett went on to attend New York University on a athletic and academic scholarship. He would soon be making appearances singing on TV Shows hosted by Ed Sullivan, David Susskind, Merv Griffin, Jack Paar and Steve Allen

From there, Gossett became good friends with James Dean and studied acting with Marilyn Monroe, Martin Landau and Steve McQueen at an offshoot of the Actors Studio taught by Frank Silvera.

In 1959, Gossett received a tremendous tribute for his role in the Broadway production of “A Raisin in the Sun” along with Sidney Poitier, Ruby Dee and Diana Sands.

He went on to become a star on Broadway, replacing Billy Daniels in “Golden Boy” with Sammy Davis Jr. in 1964.

Gossett became the third Black Oscar nominee in the supporting actor category in 1983. He won for his performance as the Marine drill instructor in “An Officer and a Gentleman”. He also won a Golden Globe for the same role.

In 2010, Gossett announced he had prostate cancer, which he said was caught in the early stages. In 2020, he was hospitalized with COVID-19.

He is survived by sons Satie, a producer-director from his second marriage, and Sharron, a chef whom he adopted at the age of 7-year-old.

Louis Gossett Jr., 1st Black man to win supporting actor Oscar, dies at 87  was originally published on

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