At the age of 87, Louis Gossett Jr., the first Black man to win an Oscar for supporting actor, passes away.

At the age of 87, Louis Gossett Jr., the first Black man to win an Oscar for supporting actor, passes away.

Louis Gossett Jr., who was the first Black man to win an Emmy and an Oscar for supporting acting for his part in the landmark TV miniseries “Roots,” has away. He was eighty-seven.
The Associated Press was informed by Gossett’s first cousin Neal L. Gossett that the actor passed away in Santa Monica, California. According to a family statement, Gossett passed away on Friday morning. The reason of death remained a mystery.

Gossett’s cousin recounted the story of a relative who confronted and combated prejudice with humor and dignity, a guy who walked with Nelson Mandela and was also a terrific joker.
“Never mind the lavish homes in Malibu and the Rolls-Royces; never mind the accolades. His cousin said, “It’s about the humanity of the people that he stood for.”
For Louis Gossett, success came to him early in life and drove him toward his Academy Award for “An Officer and a Gentleman.” He saw his early career as a reverse Cinderella narrative.
As Fiddler in the ground-breaking 1977 miniseries “Roots,” which portrayed the horrors of slavery on TV, Gossett made his breakthrough on the small screen. John Amos, LeVar Burton, and Ben Vereen were among the large cast members.
In 1983, Gossett was nominated for a third Black Oscar in the supporting actor category. Serving as the formidable Marine drill instructor in “An Officer and a Gentleman” with Richard Gere and Debra Winger, he took home the award for that role. For the same part, he was also awarded a Golden Globe.
“An Actor and a Gentleman,” his book from 2010, said, “was a huge affirmation of my position as a Black actor more than anything else.”

A fortunate occurrence

While he was injured and unable to play basketball, he received his first acting credit in the “You Can’t Take It with You” performance at his high school in Brooklyn.
In his book, he said, “I was hooked—and so was my audience.”
He was encouraged by his English instructor to travel to Manhattan and try out for “Take a Giant Step.” After being cast, he debuted on Broadway in 1953 at the age of sixteen.
Gossett writes, “I knew too little to be nervous.” “In retrospect, I should have been scared to death as I walked onto that stage, but I wasn’t.”
Gossett received scholarships to study acting and basketball at New York University. Soon after, he began performing and singing on television programs presented by Steve Allen, Ed Sullivan, Merv Griffin, Red Buttons, Jack Paar, and David Susskind.
Gossett became friends with James Dean and studied acting in an offshoot of the Frank Silvera-taught Actors Studio alongside Marilyn Monroe, Martin Landau, and Steve McQueen.
Gossett, together with Sidney Poitier, Ruby Dee, and Diana Sands, starred in the Broadway version of “A Raisin in the Sun” in 1959, earning praise from critics.
He went on to become a Broadway sensation, playing Sammy Davis Jr. in “Golden Boy” in 1964 to replace Billy Daniels.

Racism in the style of Los Angeles

1961 was Gossett’s first trip to Hollywood, when he worked on “A Raisin in the Sun.” He remembered the trip with bitterness, sleeping in one of the few Black people’s few accommodations, a cockroach-infested hotel.
He made a big comeback to Hollywood in 1968 when he featured in NBC’s first made-for-TV film, “Companions in Nightmare,” with Melvyn Douglas, Anne Baxter, and Patrick O’Neal.
This time, Gossett had a reservation at the Beverly Hills Hotel and a convertible leased from Universal Studios. After picking up the automobile, he drove back to the hotel and was stopped by a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy, who told him to put up the car’s roof and turn down the radio before he could go.
He was stopped by eight sheriff’s police in a matter of minutes; they had him lean against the vehicle and open the trunk while they phoned the automobile rental company before releasing him.
“Though I understood that I had no choice but to put up with this abuse, it was a terrible way to be treated, a humiliating way to feel,” Gossett said in his autobiography. “I realized this was happening because I was Black and had been showing off with a fancy car — which, in their view, I had no right to be driving.”
He went for a stroll after dinner at the hotel and was stopped by a policeman a block away, who informed him that he had broken a statute that forbade him from going through residential Beverly Hills after 9 p.m. Gossett said he had been handcuffed and shackled to a tree for three hours when two more cops showed up. Eventually, the original police vehicle came back, and he was let free.
“Now I had come face-to-face with racism, and it was an ugly sight,” he stated in his letter. “But it was not going to destroy me.”
Gossett said that while driving his refurbished 1986 Rolls Royce Corniche II on the Pacific Coast Highway in the late 1990s, he was stopped by police. The police informed him that he seemed to be someone they were looking for, but after identifying Gossett, the officer departed.
In an effort to eradicate racism from the globe, he established the Eracism Foundation.

A close call with the Manson clan

A number of television programs featured Gossett as a guest star, including “Bonanza,” “The Rockford Files,” “The Mod Squad,” “McCloud,” and a standout episode of “The Partridge Family” starring Richard Pryor.
Gossett was asked to actress Sharon Tate’s home in August 1969 after they had been out partying with Mamas and Papas members. He initially went home to take a shower and get dressed. He saw a news flash about Tate’s murder on TV as he was preparing to depart. That night, she and several people were murdered by the accomplices of Charles Manson.
“There had to be a reason for my escaping this bullet,” he stated in his letter.
On May 27, 1936, in the Coney Island neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York, Louis Cameron Gossett was born into the nursing home to Hellen, a nurse, and porter Louis Sr. Later on, he honored his father by adding Jr. to his name.
In Dave Karger’s 2024 book “50 Oscar Nights,” Gossett said, “The Oscar gave me the ability to choose good parts in movies like ‘Enemy Mine,’ ‘Sadat,’ and ‘Iron Eagle.”
His statue, he added, was stored.
In the book, he remarked, “I’m going to give it to a library so I don’t have to watch over it.” “I need to be free of it.”

victories without taking the lead

Gossett starred in television films that included “Roots Revisited,” “The Josephine Baker Story,” “Backstairs at the White House,” and “The Story of Satchel Paige,” for which he was nominated for a second Golden Globe.
However, he insisted that receiving an Oscar didn’t alter the reality that all of his parts were supporting ones.
In 2023, he portrayed a stubborn father figure in the “The Color Purple” adaptation.
Years after winning an Oscar, Gossett battled an addiction to cocaine and alcohol. After entering treatment, he was told he had toxic mold syndrome, which he linked to his Malibu home.
Gossett said he had prostate cancer in 2010 and claimed it was discovered early on. He spent 2020 in a hospital due to COVID-19.
Additionally, he is survived by two sons: Sharron, a chef whom he adopted after seeing the 7-year-old on a TV piece on children in need, and Satie, a producer-director from his second marriage. Robert Gossett, an actor, is his first cousin.
Gossett and Hattie Glascoe’s first marriage was dissolved. Both his second marriage, to Christina Mangosing, and his third, to actress Cyndi James-Reese, ended in divorce in 1975 and 1992, respectively.

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