Louis Gossett Jr. was the first Black man to win a supporting actor Oscar award in 1983. On Friday morning (March 29), he passed away. He was 87.

Family Confirms Louis Gossett Jr.’s Death

Louis’ first cousin, Neal L. Gossett, confirmed his death to the Associated Press. At this time, his cause of death is not public information, but the family statement confirmed Louis Gossett Jr. died in San Monica, California.

Gossett’s cousin remembered a man who walked with Nelson Mandela and who also was a great joke teller, a relative who faced and fought racism with dignity and humor.

“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 said.

A Look Back At Louis’ Successful Career

Louis Gossett Jr. earned his first acting credit in 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 was “hooked” on the craft afterward. At the encouragement of his teacher, he auditioned for ‘Take A Giant Step’ in Manhattan. He ended up getting the part and made his Broadway debut in 1953 at only 16. He eventually attended New York University on a basketball and drama scholarship.

In 1959, Gossett received critical acclaim 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. A few years before, in 1961, he went to Hollywood for the first time.

His rise to fame also included the breakthrough TV role of Fiddler in the 1977 series ‘Roots.’

Louis Gossett Jr. became the third Black Oscar nominee in the supporting actor category in 1983. He won for his performance as the intimidating Marine drill instructor in ‘An Officer and a Gentleman’ opposite Richard Gere and Debra Winger. He also won a Golden Globe for the same role.

In his 2010 memoir, Louis Gossett Jr. called the W a “huge affirmation of [his] position as a Black actor.”

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