Louis Gossett Jr., Oscar-winning actor from ‘An Officer and a Gentleman’ and ‘Roots,’ dies at 87


Explore Our Galleries

A man stands in front of the Djingareyber mosque on February 4, 2016 in Timbuktu, central Mali. 
Mali's fabled city of Timbuktu on February 4 celebrated the recovery of its historic mausoleums, destroyed during an Islamist takeover of northern Mali in 2012 and rebuilt thanks to UN cultural agency UNESCO.
African Peoples Before Captivity
Shackles from Slave Ship Henrietta Marie
Kidnapped: The Middle Passage
Enslaved family picking cotton
Nearly Three Centuries Of Enslavement
Image of the first black members of Congress
Reconstruction: A Brief Glimpse of Freedom
The Lynching of Laura Nelson_May_1911 200x200
One Hundred Years of Jim Crow
Civil Rights protest in Alabama
I Am Somebody! The Struggle for Justice
Black Lives Matter movement
NOW: Free At Last?
#15-Beitler photo best TF reduced size
Memorial to the Victims of Lynching
hands raised black background
The Freedom-Lovers’ Roll Call Wall
Frozen custard in Milwaukee's Bronzeville
Special Exhibits
Dr. James Cameron
Portraiture of Resistance

Breaking News!

Today's news and culture by Black and other reporters in the Black and mainstream media.

Ways to Support ABHM?

By Daniel Arkin, NBC

Richard Gere, left, and Louis Gossett Jr., in 'An Officer and A Gentlman' in 1982.Paramount / Courtesy Everett Collection
Richard Gere, left, and Louis Gossett Jr., in ‘An Officer and A Gentlman’ in 1982. (Paramount / Courtesy Everett Collection)

Louis Gossett Jr., who became the first Black man to win the Oscar for best supporting actor for playing a no-nonsense drill sergeant in “An Officer and a Gentleman” (1982), has died, his family said Friday.

He was 87.

“It is with our heartfelt regret to confirm our beloved father passed away this morning,” the actor’s family said in a statement. “We would like to thank everyone for their condolences at this time. Please respect the family’s privacy during this difficult time.”

In an acting career that spanned six decades, Gossett appeared in dozens of movies and television shows, including the film adaptation of Lorraine Hansberry’s “A Raisin in the Sun” (1961) and big-screen spectacles like “The Deep” (1977).

He won an Emmy for playing the old slave Fiddler in the seminal ABC miniseries “Roots” (1977), acting in three of the program’s eight episodes. He delivered a memorable late-career turn in HBO’s “Watchmen” (2019), playing a former vigilante known as Hooded Justice. But his portrayal of the tough-as-nails Gunnery Sgt. Emil Foley in “An Officer and a Gentleman,” a romantic drama co-starring Richard Gere and Debra Winger, cemented him deepest in the public consciousness.

Finish the article.

Check out more Black culture stories in our breaking news archive.

Comments Are Welcome

Note: We moderate submissions in order to create a space for meaningful dialogue, a space where museum visitors – adults and youth –– can exchange informed, thoughtful, and relevant comments that add value to our exhibits.

Racial slurs, personal attacks, obscenity, profanity, and SHOUTING do not meet the above standard. Such comments are posted in the exhibit Hateful Speech. Commercial promotions, impersonations, and incoherent comments likewise fail to meet our goals, so will not be posted. Submissions longer than 120 words will be shortened.

See our full Comments Policy here.

Leave a Comment