Louis Gossett Jr. Biography

Actor (1936–)
Louis Gossett Jr. is an American actor best known for his Academy Award-winning performance in 1983's An Officer and a Gentleman.


Actor Louis Gossett Jr. was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1936. Though headed for a basketball career with the New York Knicks in the late '50s, Gossett decided instead to pursue an acting career, making a huge early splash on Broadway in Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun in 1959. In 1983, he won an Academy Award for best supporting actor for his performance in An Officer and a Gentleman. Gossett has also had great success on television, earning Emmy and Golden Globe awards.

Early Years

Louis Cameron Gossett Jr. was born on May 27, 1936, in Brooklyn, New York. In high school, Gossett was active in sports, but when an injury sidelined him temporarily, he took up acting. At the age of 16, Gossett caught the break every actor lives for when he auditioned for Broadway's Take a Giant Step (1953) and beat out 400 other candidates to land the lead role. After graduating, though, Gossett attended New York University and returned to athletics, becoming a marquee player on the NYU basketball team. But just as his sports career was about to begin with the New York Knicks, Gossett had second thoughts and decided to resume his acting pursuits.

Gossett's next Broadway role would come in 1959, in the watershed play A Raisin in the Sun, a portrayal of African-American life written by Lorraine Hansberry. Gossett starred in both the stage and film version of Raisin, officially launching his acting career.

The 1970s

While the 1960s marked the kick-off of his acting career, the '70s would bring extremely fertile ground for Louis Gossett Jr.: Over the decade, the actor proved himself an on-screen presence to be reckoned with.

With a knack for landing guest spots on hit series, Gossett had roles in the early '60s on such shows as Bonanza, The Partridge Family, Mod Squad and Love, American Style, followed by still more roles in the mid-1960s on hits like The Jeffersons, Good Times, The Six Million Dollar Man, Police Story and The Rockford Files. Meanwhile, Gossett made a name for himself on the big screen as well, appearing in such films as The Landlord (1970), The Skin Game (1971) and Travels with My Aunt (1972).

All of this work led the actor to an essential role on the silver screen: Fiddler in the epic miniseries Roots (1977), a groundbreaking and hugely popular adaptation of the book by Alex Haley. Gossett earned an Emmy Award for his performance in Roots, followed by more film roles and critical acclaim. His menacing work in The Deep (1977) and portrayal of a tough but fair drill sergeant in An Officer and a Gentleman (1982) brought him rave reviews, with the latter role earning him an Academy Award for best supporting actor.

Later Work

Following his Oscar win, Gossett made a number of big-screen and television appearances, notably in 1983's Sadat (as Egyptian President Anwar Sadat), the sci-fi adventure Enemy Mine (1985) and the action adventure series Iron Eagle (1985, 1986, 1992 and 1995), which introduced him to a whole new generation of moviegoers. In 1991, the actor garnered more accolades for his work in HBO's The Josephine Baker Story, for which he won a Golden Globe Award.

With nearly 200 acting credits to his name, Gossett has always kept busy in front of the camera, but he stays busy behind the scenes as well with his own production company, Logo Entertainment. Logo's recent film credits include The Olive Branch and One More River to Cross, both starring and produced by Gossett and expected to be released in 2015.

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