EntertainmentOscar winner Louis Gossett Jr. dies at 87: His legacy and cause of death revealed

Oscar winner Louis Gossett Jr. dies at 87: His legacy and cause of death revealed

Susan Sarandon, Louis Gossett Jr., and Christopher Reeve at the Oscar gala in 1983.
Susan Sarandon, Louis Gossett Jr., and Christopher Reeve at the Oscar gala in 1983.
Images source: © Getty Images

3:28 PM EDT, April 20, 2024

The actor left an indelible mark on cinema history and died at 87. His cousin relayed the news to the Associated Press, noting his passing in Santa Monica, California. It was only a month later that the cause of his death was disclosed.

Louis Gossett was born in 1936 in Brooklyn. As a boy, he harbored dreams of a sports career and excelled in basketball. Unfortunately, a serious injury in his teenage years dashed his dreams of pursuing sports professionally. This setback led him to explore another passion—acting. Gossett first took to the stage at the age of 17 and also nurtured a talent for music. In the 60s, he emerged as a folk musician with considerable talent, even releasing his first single. Over time, however, his acting talent would overshadow his musical endeavors, endearing him to art lovers worldwide.

Louis Gossett Jr. has passed away. What was he known for?

Louis Gossett Jr. boasted a diverse and rich filmography. Though he might not have been the biggest star, his performances left a lasting impression. He received critical acclaim for his role as Sidney Williams in "The Josephine Baker Story," directed by Brian Gibson. This role won him the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor in a series, miniseries, or television film.

One of the pinnacle achievements in Gossett Jr.'s career was winning the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in 1983, an award complemented by a Golden Globe, for his role in "An Officer and a Gentleman," directed by Taylor Hackford. His portrayal of the strict Sergeant Emil Foley opposite a young naval cadet played by Richard Gere was universally acclaimed.

This Academy Award was particularly historic as Gossett Jr. became the first African-American actor to win it for a supporting role. This milestone followed the achievements of Hattie McDaniel, who won in 1940 for "Gone with the Wind" by George Cukor and Sam Wood, and Sidney Poitier's 1964 win for "Lilies of the Field" by Ralph Nelson.

What led to Louis Gossett Jr.'s death?

The cause of the actor's death was not immediately disclosed, but revelations by TMZ suggested that he succumbed to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). This condition, which severely impacts breathing, is among the leading causes of death. Reports also highlighted Gossett Jr.'s battles with heart failure and atrial fibrillation.

See also