Louis Gossett Jr.
Louis Cameron Gossett Jr.
May 27, 1936
Brooklyn, New York City, U.S.
|Relatives||Robert Gossett (first cousin)|
Louis Cameron Gossett Jr. (born May 27, 1936) is an American actor. He is best known for his role as Gunnery Sergeant Emil Foley in the 1982 film An Officer and a Gentleman, winning him the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. He also won an Emmy Award for his role as Fiddler in the 1977 ABC television miniseries Roots.
Gossett has also starred in numerous other film productions including A Raisin in the Sun, The Landlord, Skin Game, Travels with My Aunt, The Laughing Policeman, The White Dawn, The Deep, Jaws 3-D, Wolfgang Petersen's Enemy Mine, The Principal, the Iron Eagle series, Toy Soldiers and The Punisher, in an acting career that spans over five decades.
Gossett was born in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, New York City, 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. 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. Standing 6 feet 1 inch (1.85 m) tall, he was offered the opportunity to play varsity basketball during his college years at NYU; he declined the basketball offer to concentrate on theater. His high school teacher had encouraged him to audition for a Broadway part, resulting 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, 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); he had his cinematic debut with the play's film adaptation 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.
In 1965, Gossett appeared in the musical play The 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; Havens recorded the song 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 black male to win an Oscar in a supporting role, the second black male to win for acting, and the third black actor to win overall.
He has worked with Dennis Quaid twice in both Jaws 3-D and Enemy Mine.
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.
In 1989, Gossett co-starred in the Marvel Comics adaptation The Punisher, with Dolph Lundgren in the title role. The film was directed by Mark Goldblatt, with a screenplay by Boaz Yakin. The Punisher was filmed in Sydney, Australia and also featured Jeroen Krabbé, Kim Miyori, and Barry Otto.
In 1991, Gossett starred in Manny Coto's action film Cover Up opposite Dolph Lundgren.
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 played 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, Marisa Tomei and John Schneider.
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 US 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. Gossett returned to television in the CBS All Access series, The Good Fight, guest starring as founding partner Carl Reddick of Diane Lockhart's new firm. He narrated an audiobook based on Twelve Years a Slave.
In 2021, Gossett appears in the film Not To Forget (2021), which aims to raise awareness and funds for the fight against Alzheimer’s. The movie, directed by Valerio Zanoli, stars Karen Grassle and 5 Academy Award winners: Louis Gossett Jr., Cloris Leachman, Tatum O’Neal, George Chakiris, and Olympia Dukakis.
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.
Louis is the first cousin of actor Robert Gossett who starred on TNT's The Closer.
Gossett states that in 1966 he was handcuffed to a tree for three hours by the police in Beverly Hills.
On February 9, 2010, Gossett announced that he had prostate cancer. He added the disease was caught in its early stages, and he expected to make a full recovery.
On July 18, 2016, Gossett 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.
In late December 2020, Gossett was hospitalized in Georgia with COVID-19.
|Denotes works that have not yet been released|
|1961||A Raisin in the Sun||George Murchison|
|1971||Skin Game||Jason O'Rourke|
|1972||Travels with My Aunt||Zachary / 'Wordsworth'|
|1973||The Fuzz Brothers||Francis Fuzz|
|1973||The Laughing Policeman||Inspector James Larrimore|
|1974||The White Dawn||Portagee|
|1976||The River Niger||Dr. Dudley Stanton|
|1976||J. D.'s Revenge||Reverend Elija Bliss|
|1977||The Deep||Henri Cloche|
|1977||The Choirboys||Calvin Motts|
|1980||It Rained All Night the Day I Left||Leo Garcia|
|1982||An 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|
|1985||Enemy Mine||Jeriba 'Jerry' Shigan||Nominated — Saturn Award for Best Actor|
|1986||Iron Eagle||Colonel Charles 'Chappy' Sinclair|
|1987||The Principal||Jake Phillips|
|1987||A Gathering of Old Men||Mathu|
|1988||Iron Eagle II||Colonel / Brigadier General Charles 'Chappy' Sinclair|
|1989||The Punisher||Detective Jake Berkowitz|
|1991||Cover Up||CIA Chief Lou Jackson|
|1991||Toy Soldiers||Dean Parker|
|1992||Aces: Iron Eagle III||Brigadier General Charles 'Chappy' Sinclair|
|1992||Diggstown||Roy 'Honey Roy' Palmer|
|1994||Blue Chips||Father Dawkins|
|1994||A Good Man in Africa||Professor Sam Adekunle|
|1994||Curse of the Starving Class||Ellis|
|1995||Iron Eagle on the Attack||Brigadier General Charles 'Chappy' Sinclair (Ret.)|
|1997||The Wall That Heals||Narrator|
|1997||Bram Stoker's Legend of the Mummy||Corbeck|
|2000||The Highwayman||Phil Bishop|
|2002||Deceived||Colonel David Garrett||Direct-to-video release|
|2005||Window||Ralph Stanley||Included as part of African American Short Films|
|2005||Left Behind: World at War||President Gerald Fitzhugh|
|2007||Daddy's Little Girls||Willie|
|2008||The Perfect Game||Cool Papa Bell|
|2009||Dog Jack||Grown Up Jed|
|2009||Shannon's Rainbow||Max Donovan|
|2009||The Least Among You||Samuel Benton|
|2010||Why Did I Get Married Too?||Porter|
|2011||The Grace Card||George Wright|
|2011||A Fonder Heart||Glen|
|2011||The Lamp||The Genie|
|2012||The Undershepherd||Bishop Redford|
|2014||A Fighting Man||'Cubby'|
|2014||The Dependables||Lou Jones|
|2015||Boiling Pot||Detective Haven|
|2017||Breaking Brooklyn||Miles Bryant|
|2019||The Cuban||Luis Garcia|
|2021||Not to Forget||Pastor John|
|2023||The Color Purple||Ol' Mister||Filming|
|1958||The Big Story||Jamie Goodwin||Episode: "The Stubbornest Man"|
|1962||The Nurses||William Taylor||Episode: "The Prisoner"|
|1967-1968||Cowboy in Africa||Fulah
|Episode: "Fang and Claw"|
Episode: "The Quiet Death"
|1968||The Invaders||Ollie||Episode: "The Vise"|
|1968||Daktari||Mkono||Episode: "Adam and Jenny"|
|1968||Companions in Nightmare||Lieutenant Adam McKay||NBC television film|
|1970||The Bill Cosby Show||'Hurricane' Smith||Episode: "The Return of Big Bad Bubba Bronson"|
|1970-1971||The Young Rebels||Isak Poole|
|1971||Big Fish, Little Fish||Jimmie Luton|
|1971||The 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||The 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||Unknown||Episode: "The Alien Land"|
|1975||Insight||The Man||Episode: "The Man from Inner Space"|
|1972||The Living End||Doug Newman||CBS television pilot|
|1972||The Rookies||Toby Jones||Episode: "Covenant with Death"|
|1972||Love, American Style||Freddy||Segment: "Love and the Christmas Punch..."|
|1968-1972||The Mod Squad||'Smitty' (1968) / Lloyd (1969) / Charley Jameson (1972)||Episode: "When Smitty Comes Marching Home" (1968)|
Episode: "The Uptight Town" (1969)
Episode: "Can You Hear Me Out There?" (1972)
|1973||Owen Marshall: Counselor at Law||Unknown||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||The 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)|
|1974–1975||Petrocelli||District Attorney Kurt Olson||Episode: "A Very Lonely Lady" and "A Fallen Idol"|
|1974–1975||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||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||The Jeffersons||Wendell Brown||Episode: "George's Best Friend"|
|1975||The Six Million Dollar Man||O'Flaherty||Episode: "Clark Templeton O'Flaherty"|
|1975–1976||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"|
|1976–1977||The 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|
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor for a Single Appearance in a Drama or Comedy Series
TV Land Award
|1978||The Sentry Collection Presents Ben Vereen: His Roots||Himself||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||ABC television film|
|1980||Palmerstown, USA||Fredrick Douglas Jackson||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||Unknown||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"|
|1982–1983||The 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||A Gathering of Old Men||Mathu||CBS television film|
Nominated — Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie
|1987||The Father Clements Story||Father Clements||NBC television film|
|1988||Sam Found Out: A Triple Play||Unknown||ABC television film|
|1988||Goodbye, Miss 4th of July||John '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||Sudie and Simpson||Simpson||Television film|
|1991–1992||Captain Planet and the Planeteers||Commander Clash||Voice role (3 episodes)|
|1991||The 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|
|1992||Keeper of the City||Detective James Dela||Television film|
|1993||Story of a People||Host||Miniseries|
|1993||Gridiron Gang||Host||Documentary film|
|1993||Father & Son: Dangerous Relations||Unknown||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||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|
|1996||Run for the Dream: The Gail Devers Story||Bob Kersee||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||Sergeant Timko||Episode: "G.I. Ellen"|
|1998||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||The Color 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||The 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|
|2005–2006||Stargate SG-1||Gerak||5 episodes|
|2006||Family Guy||Sergeant Angryman||Voice role|
Episode: "Saving Private Brian"
|2007||The Batman||Lucius Fox||Voice role|
|2009||ER||Leo Malcolm||Episode: "The Family Man"|
|2012||Psych||Lloyd||Episode: "Heeeeere's Lassie"|
|2013||Boardwalk Empire||Oscar Boneau||Episode: "Havre de Grace"|
|2014–2015||Extant||Quinn||Recurring; 4 episodes|
|2014||Madam Secretary||Father Laurent Vasseur||Episode: "The Call"|
|2015||The Book of Negroes||Daddy Moses||2 episodes|
|2015||The Spoils Before Dying||Duke Webster||Episode: "The Trip Trap"|
|2017||The Good Fight||Carl Reddick||Episode: "Reddick v Boseman"|
|2018||Hap and Leonard||Bacon||6 episodes|
|2018||Hawaii Five-0||Percy Grover Sr.||Episode: "Lele pū nā manu like" (Hawaiian for: "Birds of a Feather...")|
|2019||Watchmen||Will Reeves / Hooded Justice||7 episodes|
Nominated — Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie