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Louis Gossett Jr., 87, dies; Actor “An Officer and a Gentleman” and “Roots”

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In the 1960s, he also performed as a folk singer in Greenwich Village coffeehouses. He and Richie Havens co-wrote the anti-war song “Handsome Johnny,” which Mr. Havens recorded in 1966 and later sang at Woodstock.

His dozens of feature films include “The Landlord” (1970), in which he plays a man on the verge of madness; “Travels with my aunt” (1972); and “The Deep” (1977), as a Bahamian drug dealer. His later films included “Diggstown” (1992), in which he played a boxer, and the film version of Sam Shepard’s “Curse of the Starving Class” (1994), in which he played a bar owner.

Mr. Gossett has made more than 100 television appearances, ranging from light comedies like “The Partridge Family” to dramas like “Madam Secretary.” He played the title role, a Columbia anthropology professor who investigates crimes, in the short-lived 1989 series “Gideon Oliver.”

He also appeared in numerous television films, including “The Lazarus Syndrome” (1978), about a cardiologist; “A Gathering of Old Men” (1987), about a black man who kills in self-defense; “Strange Justice” (1999), about the confirmation process of Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court (he played presidential advisor Vernon Jordan); and “Lackawanna Blues” (2005), based on the play by Ruben Santiago-Hudson. His other roles in TV movies include Egyptian leader Anwar Sadat and baseball star Satchel Paige.

He continued acting until last year, when he was seen in the film version of the Broadway musical “The Color Purple.”

Mr. Gossett’s marriage to Hattie Glascoe in 1964 lasted only five months. He and Christina Mangosing married in 1973, had one child, and divorced after two years. His 1987 marriage to Cyndi James Reese ended in divorce in 1992.

Mr. Gossett is survived by his sons, Satie and Sharron Gossett, as well as several grandchildren.

In the Television Academy interview, Mr. Gossett urged his fellow actors to contribute to political and social change in a worrying world. “The arts can achieve this overnight,” he said. “Millions of people are watching.” He added: “We can reach them faster than anyone else. »

Michael S. Rosenwald reports contributed.

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