He always seemed like he was enjoying himself with his performances. There was a bit of levity. Yes, he played series roles, but as an observer, it’s nice to see an actor that doesn’t view the job as a burden, instead viewing it as a pleasure to play such great characters. Or perhaps I’m a big fan solely because we share a birthday, albeit with a bit of difference in the year.


Louis Cameron Gossett Jr. was born on May 27, 1936, in Brooklyn, New York. Gossett discovered his passion for acting at an early age, after a basketball injury, lead him to joining the drama club, and performing in his high school production of “You Can’t Take It with You” at 17.

After encouragement by his drama teacher, he auditioned and was cast in a Broadway production of “Take a Giant Step” in 1953, earning the Donaldson Award for best newcomer of the year.

Thanks to his height, he was offered an athletic scholarship for college to play basketball. He attended New York University’s School of the Arts and honed his craft through various stage productions. Despite being offered a draft position to the New York Knicks, he chose to pursue acting instead.

Gossett’s breakthrough came in 1959 when he landed a role in the Broadway production of “A Raisin in the Sun.” Gossett made his television debut in two episodes of the NBC anthology show The Big Story (1957 – 1958). Then in 1961, he made his film debut in “A Raisin in the Sun,” reprising his stage character. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Gossett continued to establish himself as a respected actor with roles in films such as “The Landlord” (1970) and “The Laughing Policeman” (1973). He made notable appearances on television, including the role of Fiddler in the miniseries “Roots” (1977) which he won a Primetime Emmy for.

It was his portrayal of drill instructor Sergeant Emil Foley in the film “An Officer and a Gentleman.” 1982 that earned him widespread acclaim and an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. He was the first black winner of an Oscar for best supporting actor, and only the third black actor to win an Oscar at that time. Following his Oscar win, Gossett solidified his status as a leading actor with memorable roles in film such as “Enemy Mine” (1985), the Iron Eagle series, and an underrated gem, in my opinion, Firewalker (1986) along with Chuck Norris.

Louis Gossett Jr. even dabbled behind the camera, directing an episode of “The Powers of Matthew Star,” (1983) and a segment of “Love Songs” (1999).

Gossett continued to work until the very end, recently appearing in “Kingdom Business,” and a few as of yet to be released projects.

In addition to his acting career, Gossett is known for his humanitarian efforts and activism. He has been a vocal advocate for various causes, including education and civil rights, and has used his platform to raise awareness about social issues. His Eracism Foundation is a nonprofit entity, whose “mission is to contribute to the creation of a society where racism does not exist.”

On February 9, 2010, Gossett was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Luckily, he made a recovery, and continued to perform in film, TV, and do voice over work. In December 2020, was hospitalized with COVID-19. Louis Gossett Jr. passed away on March 28th, 2024.

Throughout his career, Louis Gossett Jr. has inspired, entertained, and left us with a massive catalog for generations to enjoy.

Louis Gossit Jr. Book
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