Memorial service planned May 31 for Louis Gossett Jr.

Wave Staff Report

SOUTH LOS ANGELES — A memorial service celebrating the life and legacy of actor Louis Gossett Jr. will be held at 1 p.m. May 31 at First African Methodist Episcopal Church, 2270 S. Harvard Blvd.

Gossett, a trailblazer who broke down racial barriers in the entertainment world, died March 29 in Santa Monica at the age of 87.

The actor landed his first TV role in the 1950s. He would go on to have a successful career on television, stage and film.

He received an Emmy Award in 1977 for his performance in “Roots” as Fiddler — an enslaved musician — who “fiddled” his way out of the fields.

He became the first Black man to win a best supporting actor Oscar in 1983, for his role as a Marine drill instructor in “An Officer and a Gentleman” opposite Richard Gere.

Louis Cameron Gossett was born on May 27, 1936, in the Coney Island section of Brooklyn, New York.

He took an early interest in acting and made his stage debut in a high school production of “You Can’t Take It with You.”

After high school, he attended New York University on a basketball and drama scholarship. After college, he found work on Broadway.

Gossett appeared in the stage production of “A Raisin in the Sun” about a Black family’s experiences in Chicago, and in 1961 he co-starred in the film adaptation alongside Sidney Poitier, Claudia McNeil and Ruby Dee.

He built an enviable resume when there were limited opportunities for Black actors.

Among Gossett’s many television roles were parts in “The Rockford Files,” “Good Times,” “The Jeffersons,” “Lackawanna Blues,” “Return to Lonesome Dove,” “Touched by an Angel,” “Extant,” “Watchmen,” and “Kingdom Business.” He also directed television shows and appeared in the films “The River Niger” (1976), “Jaws 3-D” (1983), and “The Cuban” (2019).

Most recently, he played the cantankerous Ol’ Mister alongside Colman Domingo’s Mister in “The Color Purple” remake (2023).

Gossett was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2010. He went public with his diagnosis to encourage other Black men to seek preventive examinations.

He is survived by his sons Satie, who is a producer-director; and Sharron, who is a chef.