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Oscar-winning actor Louis Gossett Jr. dies at age 87

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Academy Award winner Louis Gossett Jr. has died at age 87.  Gossett Jr.’s family said in a statement obtained and shared by PEOPLE: “It is with our heartfelt regret to confirm our beloved father passed away this morning. We would like to thank everyone for their condolences at this time. Please respect the family’s privacy during this difficult time.”

Gossett’s first cousin Neal L. Gossett told The Associated Press that the actor died in Santa Monica, California, with a statement from the family sharing that Gossett died Friday morning. No cause of death was revealed, however, Gossett battled prostate cancer and respiratory illness caused by toxic mold in his former home prior to his death.

Gossett was best known for his Emmy award winning work in Roots and for his Oscar-winning performance in the 1982 film An Officer and a Gentleman, in which he portrayed Sgt. Emil Foley.  Gossett’s win for Best Supporting Actor made him the first Black man to earn an Academy Awards in that category. Other notable roles include  his Golden Globe-winning performance as Sidney Williams in the HBO film The Josephine Baker Story.

Gossett’s most recent credits include Will Reeves in the HBO series Watchmen and Ol’ Mister in the 2023 adaptation of The Color Purple.  Gossett was married three times and is survived by two sons — Satie, a producer-director from his second marriage (to Christina Mangosing, which ended in divorce in 1975), and son Sharron, a chef whom Gossett adopted at 7-years-old. Gossett is also survived by his first cousin, actor Robert Gossett.

Editorial credit: Jamie Lamor Thompson /

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