Louis Gossett Jr.

Louis Gossett Jr.

Gossett in February 2008
Born Louis Cameron Gossett Jr.
(1936-05-27) May 27, 1936
Brooklyn, New York City, New York, U.S.
Occupation Actor
Years active 1957–present
Spouse(s) Hattie Glascoe
(1967–1968; annulled)
Christina Mangosing
Cyndi James-Reese
Children 2

Louis Cameron Gossett Jr. (born May 27, 1936) is an American actor. He is perhaps best known for his Academy Award-winning role as Gunnery Sergeant Emil Foley in the 1982 film An Officer and a Gentleman, and his Emmy Award-winning role as Fiddler in the 1977 ABC television miniseries Roots. Gossett has also starred in numerous film productions including A Raisin In The Sun, Skin Game, Travels with My Aunt, The Laughing Policeman, The Deep, Jaws 3-D (1983), Wolfgang Petersen's Enemy Mine, the Iron Eagle series, Toy Soldiers and The Punisher, in an acting career that spans over five decades.[1]

Early life and education

Gossett was born in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, New York, on May 27, 1936, to Hellen Rebecca (née Wray), a nurse, and Louis Gossett Sr., a porter. He is an alumnus of Mark Twain Intermediate School 239 and Abraham Lincoln High School.[2] His stage debut came at the age of 17, in a school production of You Can't Take It with You when a sports injury resulted in the decision to take an acting class. Polio had already delayed his graduation.

After graduating from Abraham Lincoln High School in 1954, he attended New York University, declining an athletic scholarship.[3] Standing 6'4" (1.93 m), he was offered the opportunity to play varsity basketball during his college years at NYU, which he declined to concentrate on theater. His high school teacher had encouraged him to audition for a Broadway part, which resulted in his selection for a starring role on Broadway in 1953 from among 200 other actors well before he entered NYU.


Gossett replaced Bill Gunn as Spencer Scott in Broadway's Take a Giant Step,[4] which was selected by The New York Times drama critics as one of the 10 best shows of the year. He was 17, and still a student at Abraham Lincoln High School, with no formal drama training.

Gossett's Broadway theatre credits include A Raisin in the Sun (1959). Gossett stepped into the world of cinema in the Sidney Poitier vehicle A Raisin in the Sun in 1961.

Also in 1961, Gossett appeared in the original cast of Jean Genet's The Blacks, the longest running off-Broadway play of the decade, running for 1,408 performances. The original cast also featured James Earl Jones, Roscoe Lee Browne, Cicely Tyson, Godfrey Cambridge, Maya Angelou and Charles Gordone.[5]

In 1965, Gossett appeared in the musical play, Zulu and the Zayda on Broadway as Paulus with music and lyrics by Harold Rome.

Gossett wrote the antiwar folk song "Handsome Johnny" with Richie Havens which Havens recorded in 1966.

His Emmy Award-winning role of Fiddler in the 1977 television miniseries Roots first brought Gossett to the audience's attention.

In 1983, he was cast in the title role in Sadat, a miniseries which chronicled the life and assassination of Anwar Sadat. While filming An Officer and a Gentleman, Gossett was also starring in the 1982–1983 science fiction series, The Powers of Matthew Star. His role as drill instructor Gunnery Sergeant Emil Foley in the 1982 film An Officer and a Gentleman won him an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. He was the first African-American male to win an Oscar in a supporting role, the second black male to win for acting, and the third African-American actor to win overall.

In 1986, Gossett starred in another role as a military man (Colonel Chappy Sinclair) in the film Iron Eagle. It was followed by three sequels.

Gossett is the voice of the Vortigaunts in the video game Half-Life 2 and is the Free Jaffa Leader Gerak in Season 9 of the sci-fi television series Stargate SG-1. He provides the voice of Lucius Fox in The Batman animated series. He recorded several commercials for a Nashville-based diabetic company, AmMed Direct, LLC. In 1997, Gossett presented When Animals Attack! 4, a one-hour special on Fox.

He plays the role of fictional U.S. President Gerald Fitzhugh in the 2005 film Left Behind: World at War. In 2008 he filmed the "Keep It Real" series of commercials for the Namibian lager Windhoek.

In 2009, Gossett also lent his voice talents in the Thomas Nelson audio Bible production known as The Word of Promise. In this dramatized audio, Gossett played the character of John the Apostle. The project also featured a large ensemble of well known Hollywood actors including Jim Caviezel, John Rhys-Davies, Jon Voight, Gary Sinise, Jason Alexander, Christopher McDonald, Marissa Tomei and John Schneider.[6][7]

In 2013, Gossett starred in the controversial drama, Boiling Pot, which is based on true events of racism that occurred on college campuses across the country during the 2008 Presidential election. The film, written and directed by the Ashmawey brothers under AshmaweyFilms, also stars Danielle Fishel, Keith David, M. Emmet Walsh, and John Heard. Gossett plays a Detective attempting to decipher a murder case that was fueled by racism, all while putting aside his own prejudices. Boiling Pot was released in 2014.

Personal life

Gossett has been married three times and fathered one son and adopted one son. His first marriage was to Hattie Glascoe; it was annulled. His second, to Christina Mangosing, took place on August 21, 1973. Their son Satie was born in 1974. Gossett and Mangosing divorced in 1975. His third marriage, to Star Search champion Cyndi James-Reese, took place on December 25, 1987. They adopted a son, Sharron (born 1977). Gossett and James-Reese divorced in 1992.[8]

Louis is the uncle of actor Robert Gossett who stars on TNT's The Closer.[9]

According to DNA analysis, he is descended, chiefly, from people of Liberia and Sierra Leone.[10]

On February 9, 2010, Gossett announced that he was suffering from prostate cancer. He added: the disease was caught in its early stages, and expects to make a full recovery.[11][12]

On July 18, 2016, Mr. Gosset cohosted as a guest programmer on Turner Classic Movies' primetime lineup. Allowed to choose four movies to air, he selected "Blackboard Jungle," "Lifeboat," "Touch of Evil" and "The Night of the Hunter."



Year Title Role Notes
1961 Raisin in the Sun, AA Raisin in the Sun George Murchison
1969 Bushbaby, TheThe Bushbaby Tembo
1970 Landlord, TheThe Landlord Copee
1971 Skin Game Jason O'Rourke
1972 Travels with My Aunt Zachary/'Wordsworth'
1973 The Fuzz Brothers Francis Fuzz
1973 Laughing Policeman, TheThe Laughing Policeman Insp. James Larrimore SFPD
1974 White Dawn, TheThe White Dawn Portagee
1976 River Niger, TheThe River Niger Dr. Dudley Stanton
1976 J. D.'s Revenge Rev. Elija Bliss
1977 Deep, TheThe Deep Henri Cloche
1977 Choirboys, TheThe Choirboys Calvin Motts
1980 It Rained All Night the Day I Left Leo Garcia
1982 Officer and a Gentleman, AnAn Officer and a Gentleman Gunnery Sergeant Emil Foley Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture
NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture
1983 Jaws 3-D Calvin Bouchard Nominated Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Supporting Actor
1984 Finders Keepers Century
1985 Enemy Mine Jeriba 'Jerry' Shigan Nominated Saturn Award for Best Actor
1986 Iron Eagle Chappy Sinclair
1986 Firewalker Leo Porter
1987 Principal, TheThe Principal Jake Phillips
1987 A Gathering of Old Men Mathu
1988 Iron Eagle II Chappy Sinclair
1989 Punisher, TheThe Punisher Jake Berkowitz
1991 Cover Up Lou Jackson
1991 Toy Soldiers Dean Parker
1992 Aces: Iron Eagle III Chappy Sinclair
1992 Diggstown 'Honey' Roy Palmer
1993 Monolith Capt. MacCandless
1993 Flashfire Ben Durand
1994 Blue Chips Father Dawkins
1994 Good Man in Africa, AA Good Man in Africa Prof. Sam Adekunle
1994 Curse of the Starving Class Ellis
1995 Iron Eagle on the Attack Chappy Sinclair
1996 Managua Paul
1997 Wall That Heals, TheThe Wall That Heals Narrator
1997 Legend of the Mummy Corbeck
1999 Y2K Morgan
2000 The Highwayman Phil Bishop
2002 Deceived Col. David Garrett Direct-to-video release
2005 Window Ralph Stanley Included as part of African American Short Films[13]
2005 Left Behind: World at War President Gerald Fitzhugh
2006 All In Caps
2006 Club Soda Doc
2007 Daddy's Little Girls Willie
2007 Cover Det. Hicks
2008 Perfect Game, TheThe Perfect Game Cool Papa Bell
2008 Delgo Zahn Voice only
2009 Dog Jack Grown up Jed
2009 Shannon's Rainbow Max
2009 Least Among You, TheThe Least Among You Samuel Benton
2010 Smitty Mr. Smith
2010 Why Did I Get Married Too? Porter
2011 Grace Card, TheThe Grace Card George Wright
2011 Fonder Heart, AA Fonder Heart Glen
2011 Lamp, TheThe Lamp The Genie
2013 Boiling Pot Detective Haven
2014 A Fighting Man Cubby
2014 The Dependables Lou Jones


Year Title Role Notes
1958 Big Story, TheThe Big Story Jamie Goodwin Episode: "The Stubbornest Man"
1962 Nurses, TheThe Nurses William Taylor Episode: "The Prisoner"
196768 Cowboy in Africa Fulah
Episode: "Fang and Claw"
Episode: "The Quiet Death"
1968 Invaders, TheThe Invaders Ollie Episode: "The Vise"
1968 Daktari Mkono Episode: "Adam and Jenny"
1968 Companions in Nightmare Lt. Adam McKay NBC television film
1968 Mod Squad, TheThe Mod Squad Sgt William Smith (Smithy) Episode: "When Smitty Comes Marching Home"
1970 Bill Cosby Show, TheThe Bill Cosby Show Hurricane Smith Episode: "The Return of Big Bad Bubba Bronson"
197071 Young Rebels, TheThe Young Rebels Isak Poole
1971 Big Fish, Little Fish Jimmie Luton
1971 Partridge Family, TheThe Partridge Family Sam Episode: "Soul Club"
1971 Bonanza Buck Walter Episode: "The Desperado"
1971 Longstreet Sergeant Cory Episode: "The Way of the Intercepting Fist"
1971 Bold Ones: The New Doctors, TheThe Bold Ones: The New Doctors Dr. Karnes Episode: "One Lonely Step"
1971 Alias Smith and Jones Joe Sims Episode: "The Bounty Hunter"
1971 Cade's County Episode: "The Alien Land"
1972 Insight Episode: "The Man from Inner Space"
1972 The Living End Doug Newman CBS television pilot
1972 Rookies, TheThe Rookies Toby Jones Episode: "Covenant with Death"
1972 Love, American Style Freddy Segment: "Love and the Christmas Punch..."
Mod Squad, TheThe Mod Squad Smitty
Charley Jameson
Episode: "When Smitty Comes Marching Home"
Episode: "The Uptight Town"
Episode: "Can You Hear Me Out There?"
1973 Owen Marshall: Counselor at Law Episode: "An Often and Familiar Ghost"
1974 It's Good to Be Alive Sam Brockington CBS television film
1974 Sidekicks Jason O'Rourke TV remake of Gossett's 1971 Skin Game
CBS television film
1974 White Dawn, TheThe White Dawn Portagee ABC television film
1974 McCloud Dewey Justin Episode: Shivaree on Delancy Street
1974 The New Land Simon York Episode: "The Word is: Dignity" (never aired)
1974–75 Petrocelli D.A. Kurt Olson Episode: "A Very Lonely Lady" and "A Fallen Idol"
1974–75 Good Times Donald Knight
Uncle Wilbert
Episode: "Thelma's Young Man"
Episode: "Michael's Big Fall"
1975 Lucas Tanner Bobby Koball Episode: "Bonus Baby"
1975 Black Bart Black Bart CBS television film
1975 Delancey Street: The Crisis Within Otis James NBC television film
1975 Caribe David Wallace Episode: "The Assassin"
1975 Harry O Cleon Jackson Episode: "Shades"
1975 Jeffersons, TheThe Jeffersons Wendell Brown Episode: "George's Best Friend"
1975 Six Million Dollar Man, TheThe Six Million Dollar Man O'Flaherty Episode: "Clark Templeton O'Flaherty"
1975–76 Police Story Freddie
Virgil Barnes
Episode: "The Cut Man Caper"
Episode: "50 Cents-First Half Hour, $1.75 All Day"
1976 Little House on the Prairie Henry Hill Episode: "The Long Road Home"
1976 The Rebels
1976–77 Rockford Files, TheThe Rockford Files Marcus 'Gabby' Hayes Episode: Foul on the First Play and Just Another Polish Wedding
1977 Little Ladies of the Night Russ Garfield ABC television film
1977 Roots Fiddler ABC miniseries
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor for a Single Appearance in a Drama or Comedy Series
TV Land Award
1977 Visions Rex Episode: "Freeman"
1978 The Lazarus Syndrome Dr. MacArthur St. Clair ABC television film
1978 The Sentry Collection Presents Ben Vereen: His Roots Nominated Primetime Emmy Award for Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program
1978 To Kill a Cop Everett Walker Uncredited Role
NBC television film
1978 The Critical List Lem Harper NBC television film
1979 Backstairs at the White House Levi Mercer NBC miniseries
Nominated Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or a Special
1979 Lawman Without a Gun Tom Hayward NBC television film
1979 The Lazarus Syndrome Dr. MacArthur St. Clair
1980 Palmerstown, USA Nominated Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series
1981 Don't Look Back: The Story of Leroy 'Satchel' Paige Leroy 'Satchel' Paige ABC television film
1982 American Playhouse Episode: "Zora Is My Name!"
1982 Benny's Place Benny Moore ABC television film
1982 Saturday Night Live Host Episode: "Louis Gossett Jr/George Thorogood & the Destroyers"
1982–83 Powers of Matthew Star, TheThe Powers of Matthew Star Walter 'Walt' Shepherd/D'Hai
1983 Sadat Anwar al-Sadat Television film
Nominated Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie
Nominated Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film
1984 The Guardian John Mack Nominated CableACE Award for Best Actor in a Movie or Miniseries
HBO television film
1987 Gathering of Old Men, AA Gathering of Old Men Mathu CBS television film
Nominated Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie
1987 Father Clements Story, TheThe Father Clements Story Father Clements NBC television film
1988 Sam Found Out: A Triple Play ABC television film
1988 Goodbye, Miss 4th of July Big John Creed Disney Channel television film
1988 Roots: The Gift Fiddler ABC television film
1989 Gideon Oliver Gideon Oliver
1990 El Diablo Van Leek HBO television film
1990 Captain Planet and the Planeteers Commander Clash Voice role
1990 Sudie and Simpson Simpson Television film
1991 Josephine Baker Story, TheThe Josephine Baker Story Sidney Williams HBO television film
Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries or Television Film
1991 Carolina Skeletons James Bragg NBC television film
1991 Keeper of the City Det. James Dela Television film
1993 Story of a People Host Miniseries
1993 Gridiron Gang Host Documentary film
1993 Father & Son: Dangerous Relations NBC television film
1993 Return to Lonesome Dove Isom Pickett Miniseries
1994 Picket Fences Rick Jennings Episode: "Terms of Estrangement"
1994 Ray Alexander: A Taste for Justice Ray Alexander NBC television film
1995 A Father for Charlie Walter Osgood
1995 Zooman Rueben Tate
1995 Ray Alexander: A Menu for Murder Ray Alexander
1996 Captive Heart: The James Mink Story James Mink Nominated NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special
Television film
1996 Run for the Dream: The Gail Devers Story Bob Kersee Television film
1996 Inside Questioner Television film
1997 Touched by an Angel Anderson Walker Episode: "Amazing Grace"
NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
Nominated Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series
1997 To Dance with Olivia Daniel Stewart CBS television film
1997 In His Father's Shoes Frank Crosby/Richard Showtime television film
Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Children's Special
Nominated CableACE Award for Best Children's Special - 7 and Older
Nominated Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Performer in a Children's Special
1997 Early Edition Jim Matthews Episode: "The Medal"
1997 Ellen Sgt. Timko Episode: "G.I. Ellen"
1998 Inspectors, TheThe Inspectors Inspector Frank Hughes Showtime television film
1999 Love Songs Reuben Segment: "A Love Song for Dad"; Showtime television film
Black Reel Award for Best Director: T.V. Movie/Cable
Nominated Black Reel Award for Best Actor: T.V. Movie/Cable
1999 Strange Justice Vernon Jordan Showtime television film
2000 Dr. Lucille David Mulera Television film
2000 The Inspectors 2: A Shred of Evidence Inspector Frank Hughes Showtime television film
2000 ThemColor of Love: Jacey's Story Lou Hastings CBS television film
Nominated Satellite Award for Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film
2001 For Love of Olivia Daniel Stewart CBS television film
2002 Opening Ceremony Salt Lake Paralympic Winter Games Narrator Nominated Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Special Class Special
2002 What About Your Friends: Weekend Getaway Dr. Barnes UPN television film
2002 Resurrection Blvd. Ezekiel 'Zeke' Grant Episode: "En Un Momento" and "Esperando Lagrimas"
2003 Dead Zone, TheThe Dead Zone Pastor David Lewis Episode: "Zion"
2003 Jasper, Texas R.C. Horn Nominated NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special
Showtime television film
2003 Momentum Raymond Addison SCI FI television film
2004 Half & Half Ray Willis Episode: "The Big Lover, My Brother Episode" and "The Big Thanks for Nothing Episode"
2005 Solar Attack President Ryan Gordon Direct-to-DVD release
2005 Lackawanna Blues Ol'lem Taylor HBO television film
2005–06 Stargate SG-1 Gerak
2006 Family Guy Sergeant Angryman Voice role
Episode: "Saving Private Brian"
2007 Batman, TheThe Batman Lucius Fox Voice role
2009 ER Leo Malcolm Episode: "The Family Man"
2012 Psych Lloyd Episode: "Heeeeere's Lassie"
2013 Boardwalk Empire Oscar Episode: "Havre de Grace"
2014 Extant Quinn Recurring
2014 Madam Secretary Father Laurent Vasseur Episode: "The Call"
2015 The Book of Negroes Daddy Moses


1964: Supporting role, Broadway musical adaptation of Odets' Golden Boy.

2006: Dvorak's New World: Chamber Music Plus. Louis Gossett Jr., narrator, with Aubrey Allicock (Baritone), Sanda Schuldmann (piano), and Harry Clark (writer).[14][15]


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