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Legendary Actor Louis Gossett Jr. Passes Away at 87

Louis Gossett Jr., the first Black man to win the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, has sadly passed away at the age of 87. His cousin, Neal L Gossett, confirmed his demise on March 29, stating that he died at a rehabilitation center in Santa Monica, California.

A Decorated Career

Gossett Jr. had a remarkable career spanning nearly seven decades. His most notable achievement was winning the Best Supporting Actor Oscar in 1983 for his role as a Marine drill instructor in the film “An Officer and a Gentleman.” This historic win made him the first African-American to receive this prestigious award, defeating fellow nominees like Charles Durning, John Lithgow, James Mason, and Robert Preston.

He also won an Emmy in 1977 for his performance in the critically acclaimed miniseries “Roots,” based on Alex Haley’s novel. Gossett Jr. was not only the first Black Best Supporting Actor Oscar winner but also the first Black actor to win an Academy Award overall since Sidney Poitier’s honor in 1953.

A Versatile Talent

Born in Brooklyn, Gossett Jr. attended New York University and was one of the most famous actors of his time. He showcased his talents on Broadway and other prominent stages, appearing in plays such as “The Blacks,” “A Raisin in the Sun,” and “Murderous Angels.”

Despite his immense talent, he often faced racial discrimination from White filmmakers who subjected him to pigeonholed characterizations, demanding that he act more “Black” on camera.

Health Struggles

In recent years, Gossett Jr. battled several health issues, including prostate cancer diagnosed in 2010 and a respiratory illness caused by toxic mold in his old Malibu home. He was also hospitalized with COVID-19 in December 2020.

In 1989, Gossett Jr. opened up about the lack of offers after his Oscar win, leading to depression and addiction to cocaine and alcohol.

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