RIP: Louis Gossett Jr.

Louis Gossett Jr.,  the award-winning actor of stage and screen, died today.  No cause of death was given. Mr. Gossett was 87.

Louis Gossett Jr. made his stage debut on Broadway in Take a Giant Step.  He was just 17 (and had no formal acting training). Mr. Gossett would go on to appear on Broadway in The Desk Set and A Raisin in the Sun.  He also appeared in several other theater productions both on Broadway and other locations.  Mr. Gossett made his television debut in 1957, in The Big Story.   His feature film debut came in 1961, in A Raisin in the Sun (adapted from the Broadway play).

For the rest of his career Louis Gossett Jr. would appear on stage, television and in feature films.

In 1977, Mr. Gossett won a Primetime Emmy as Outstanding Lead Actor for a Single Appearance in a Drama or Comedy Series for his role in Roots.

Mr. Gossett won an Best Supporting Actor Academy Award in 1983 for his role in An Officer and a Gentleman.  He was the first African-American to win the award.  That same year Mr. Gossett won the Golden Globe as Best Actor in a Supporting Role – Motion Picture for his part in An Officer and a Gentleman.

Television appearances of Louis Gossett Jr. include: The Big Story (2 episodes); Cowboy in Africa (2 episodes); The Invaders; Daktari; The Bill Cosby Show; The Young Rebels (15 episodes); The Partridge Family; Bonanza; Longstreet; The Bold Ones: The New Doctors; Alias Smith and Jones; The Rookies; The Mod Squad (3 episodes); Love American Style; Owen Marshall – Counselor at Law; McCloud; Lucas Tanner; Petrocelli (2 episodes); Harry O; Good Times (2 episodes); The Jeffersons; The Six Million Dollar Man; Police Story (2 episodes); Little House on the Prairie; Roots (3 episodes); The Rockford Files (2 episodes); Backstairs at the White House (4 episodes); The Lazarus Syndrome (5 episodes); The Powers of Matthew Star (22 episodes); Sadat (2 episodes); Roots: The Gift; Straight Up (2 episodes); The Josephine Baker Story; Captain Planet (3 episodes); Return to Lonesome Dove (3 episodes); Picket Fences; Ray Alexander: A Taste for Justice; Ray Alexander: A Menu for Murder; Touched by an Angel; Early Edition; Ellen; Resurrection Blvd. (2 episodes); The Dead Zone; Half & Half (2 episodes); Stargate SG-1 (5 episodes); Family Guy; The Batman (3 episodes); ER; Psych; Boardwalk Empire; The Book of Negroes (2 episodes); Extant (4 episodes); Hap & Leonard (5 episodes); Hawaii 5-0; Watchmen (7 episodes) and Kingdom Business (2 episodes).

Feature film appearances of Louis Gossett Jr. include: A Raisin in the Sun; Skin Game; Travels with My Aunt; The Laughing Policeman; The Deep; The Choirboys; An Officer and a Gentleman; Jaws 3-D; Enemy Mine; Iron Eagle; Firewalker; The Principal; Iron Eagle II; The Punisher; Toy Soldiers; Aces: Iron Eagle III; Diggstown; Iron Eagle on the Attack and The Color Purple.

The first time I saw Louis Gossett Jr. on screen was probably in The Invaders or The Young Rebels.  I regularly watched those shows so it is likely I saw him there first.  But boy, he sure did appear in many other shows I watched as often as possible.  My favorite performance by Louis Gossett Jr. is easily in An Officer and a Gentleman.  He was perfect.  Of course any time you saw Louis Gossett Jr.’s name in the credits, you knew the role would be better because of him.  It’s evidence of his talent that he could move from stage to television to feature films or drama to comedy with ease.  Also the length of his career points to a very talented individual.

Out thoughts and prayers go out to Louis Gossett Jr.’s family, friends and fans.