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Louis Gossett Jr., first black man to win an Oscar for supporting actor, dies at 87 | Radio-Canada News


Louis Gossett Jr., the first black man to win a supporting actor Oscar and an Emmy for his role in the landmark TV miniseries Roots, is dead. He was 87 years old.

Gossett’s nephew told The Associated Press that the actor died Thursday evening in Santa Monica, California. No cause of death has been revealed.

After a long career on stage and screen, Gossett became more widely known as Fiddler in the groundbreaking 1977 television miniseries. Roots, which depicts the atrocities of slavery. The sprawling cast included Ben Vereen, LeVar Burton and John Amos.

Gossett became the third black Oscar nominee in the supporting actor category in 1983. He won for his performance as an intimidating Navy drill instructor in An officer and a gentleman opposite Richard Gere and Debra Winger. He also won a Golden Globe for the same role.

“More than anything, it was a huge affirmation of my position as a black actor,” he wrote in his 2010 memoir. An actor and a gentleman.

A man puts his arm around another at a public event.
Gossett is introduced in 2004 in New York at an event honoring Richard Gere, right, his co-star in An Officer and a Gentleman. (Evan Agostoni/Getty Images)

After the Oscar, Gossett pursued film roles, notably in Enemy mine, The main, Diggstown, Iron Eagle and its sequel. On television, he will appear as Egyptian leader Anwar Sadat in It’s been agesAs good as inside The story of Josephine Baker, for which he won another Golden Globe.

Gossett also had a leading role as Daddy Moses in the miniseries adaptation of Laurence Hill’s novel. The Book of Negroesbroadcast on CBC in 2015.

The Canadian production depicted the journey to Nova Scotia of Aminata Diallo, born in West Africa, who was a slave in South Carolina. Gossett said at the time that he considered this Rootsfor a new generation.

WATCH | Gossett on his role in The Book of Negroes:

Lou Gossett Jr. talks to Q in 2014 about his life and acting career

Oscar winner Louis Gossett Jr. sat down with Q guest host Piya Chattopadhyay in 2014 for a wide-ranging interview, including about his role in CBC-TV’s adaptation of Lawrence Hill’s acclaimed novel The Book of Negroes.

“It’s time for people to know all the stories about us, to have an idea of ​​who we really are, because some of our stories have been removed from our history books,” he said. “Everyone needs to know everyone. Our children need to know who they are so they can represent themselves correctly.”

Most recently, Gossett played a headstrong patriarch in the 2023 remake of The color purple.

First successes on Broadway

Louis Cameron Gossett was born on May 27, 1936, in the Coney Island neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York, to Louis Sr., a porter, and Hellen, a nurse.

He earned his first acting credit in his Brooklyn high school production You can’t take it with you while he was sidelined from the basketball team due to injury.

“I was hooked, as was my audience,” he wrote in his memoir.

Six African-American men and women wearing suits and dresses pose for a photo at an event.
The cast of Roots poses for photographers at the 59th Primetime Emmy Awards on September 16, 2007, at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. From left: Gossett, Ben Vereen, Cicely Tyson, LeVar Burton, Leslie Uggams and John Amos. (Evan Agostini/Getty Images)

His English teacher pushed him to go to Manhattan to try Take a giant step. He got the role and made his Broadway debut in 1953, at the age of 16.

Gossett attended New York University on a basketball and drama scholarship, then studied acting with Marilyn Monroe, Martin Landau and Steve McQueen at a branch of the Actors Studio taught by Frank Silvera.

In 1959, Gossett won critical acclaim for his role in the Broadway production of A grape in the sun with Sidney Poitier, Ruby Dee and Diana Sands. Two years later, he would appear in the film adaptation.

He became a star on Broadway, replacing Billy Daniels in golden boy with Sammy Davis Jr. in 1964.

In 1968, he returned to Hollywood for a major role in Companions in the nightmare — NBC’s first TV movie.

During filming, Gossett was booked at the Beverly Hills Hotel and Universal Studios rented him a convertible. Returning to the hotel after picking up the car, he was arrested by a Los Angeles County sheriff’s officer.

Minutes later, he was arrested by eight sheriff’s officers, who made him lean against the car and open the trunk while they called the rental car agency before letting him go. .

“Even though I understood that I had no choice but to endure this abuse, it was a terrible way to be treated, a humiliating way to feel,” Gossett wrote in his memoir. “I realized this was happening because I was black and showing off with a luxury car – which, according to them, I was not allowed to drive.”

Regular work, then breakthrough

Gossett made a series of appearances on shows such as Bargain, The Rockford Files, The mod team and a memorable turn with Richard Pryor on The partridge family.

After the significant event of RootsGossett has appeared in TV movies and miniseries such as Satchel Paige’s Story And Behind the scenes at the White House.

Gossett struggled with alcohol and cocaine addiction for years after his Oscar win. He went to rehab, where he was diagnosed with toxic mold syndrome, which he attributed to his Malibu home.

He is survived by his sons Satie, producer-director from his second marriage, and Sharron, chef.

Gossett’s first marriage to Hattie Glascoe was annulled. His second, with Christina Mangosing, ended in divorce in 1975, as did his third with actor Cyndi James-Reese in 1992.


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