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Rest in Power: Louis Gossett, Jr.

While death is an inevitable part of life, that fact doesn’t make it any easier when it is reported that someone has died.

Louis Gossett Jr., the award-winning actor who became the first Black man to win an Oscar for best supporting role, died Thursday, March 28, 2024, the Associated Press reported. He was 87.

Screenshot 2024 03 29 at 7.09.50 PM

Gossett’s nephew confirmed his uncle’s death to the Associated Press.

No cause of death was immediately reported.

Gossett notably won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in 1983 for his portrayal of the no-nonsense Navy flight school sergeant who whips Richard Gere into shape in “An Officer and a Gentleman.” That was the first time a Black person had won the Oscar.

That Academy Award was among dozens of other honors Gossett won during a career that spanned more than 50 years on the big and small screen, including the seminal TV miniseries, “Roots.”

Gossett was very race-conscious and recalled a troubling experience with the law when he was a young actor in Hollywood in the 960s.

From the Associated Press:

Gossett went to Hollywood for the first time in 1961 to make the film version of “A Raisin in the Sun.” He had bitter memories of that trip, staying in a cockroach-infested motel that was one of the few places to allow Black people.

In 1968, he returned to Hollywood for a major role in “Companions in Nightmare,” NBC’s first made-for-TV movie that starred Melvyn Douglas, Anne Baxter and Patrick O’Neal.

This time, Gossett was booked into the Beverly Hills Hotel and Universal Studios had rented him a convertible. Driving back to the hotel after picking up the car, he was stopped by a Los Angeles County sheriff’s officer who ordered him to turn down the radio and put up the car’s roof before letting him go.

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

“Though I understood that I had no choice but to put up with 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 had been showing off with a fancy car

According to Gossett appeared in more than 200 productions as an actor dating back to 1957, when he appeared in two episodes of “The Big Story” TV series.

While Gossett was nominated for dozens of awards during that impressive time span, he won five of them, including being crowned in 1977 Outstanding Actor for a Single Appearance in a Drama or Comedy Series for his role as Fiddler in “Roots.”

Over the years, Gossett had experienced several health setbacks.

Most recently, he had been diagnosed with COVID-19 during the pandemic. In that instance, Gossett ended up leaving a local Georgia hospital out of fear. Gossett, then 84, was recovering at home under the care of his son. He told TMZ, “Please wear masks, social distance, isolate, pray and listen within. We cannot survive without one another.”

In 2010, Gossett revealed that he was being treated for prostate cancer. At the time, he said the disease was caught early and went public in part as a way to raise awareness in the African American community on fighting prostate cancer with preventive examinations and early treatment.

May Louis Gossett Jr. rest in peace.

This story was first published by NewsOne on March 29, 2024, in OBITUARIES Rest In Power: Notable Black People Who Have Died This Year” section.

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