Dennis Quaid and Lou Gossett, Jr. in Enemy Mine {image via 20th Century Fox}

Award-winning actor Lou Gossett, Jr. has left us. He was 87. Gossett was born in New York May 27, 1936, in the Coney Island section of Brooklyn, New York. He won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in An Officer and A Gentleman (1982). He was the first African-American actor to win an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor, and only the third such to win an Oscar.

Between 1977 and 2020, he was nominated for eight Emmy awards and one Saturn Award. He won his sole Emmy in 1977, for playing Fiddler in Roots. He won two Golden Globe awards, one for The Josephine Baker Story (1991) and one for An Officer and a Gentleman. He was nominated for a Golden Globe dor starring in Sadat (1983).

Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Roles

In a praiseworthy career that stretched decades, naturally Lou Gossett, Jr. had several science fiction roles. He starred as the Drac pilot Jeriba Shigan in Enemy Mine (1985). He played Walter Shepherd on The Powers of Matthew Star. In the pre-MCU Marvel movie The Punisher, Gossett played Detective Jake Berkowitz. In Stargate SG-1, he had a recurring role as the Free Jaffa leader Gerak. He co-starred as Pendle in the superhero comedy Supervizized ( Gossett played Calvin Bouchard. He appeared in seven episodes of the mini-serie Watchmen as Will Reeves. In the fantasy film, The Lamp (2010), he played Charles Montgomery III. In Bram Stoker’s The Mummy (1998), Gossett played Corbeck, an archaeologist. In the 2004 Batman cartoon, he voiced Lucius Fox.

Actor (Other Roles) and Singer

Lou Gossett, Jr. starred in westerns: Skin Game (1971), science fiction: Enemy Mine, action-adventure: The Deep (1977), Firewalker (1986), Iron Eagle (1986), drama An Officer and a Gentleman (1982), and romance Love Songs (1999). He played pastors, teachers, soldiers, cops,baseball players, and played all of them well. He was considered a promising folk singer in the ’60s and sang on Broadway more than once. He co-wrote the anti-war song “Handsome Jonnie” with Richie Havens.

In 1953, Lou Gossett, Jr. made his Broadway debut in Take a Giant Step. He went on to play George Murchison in A Raisin in the Sun. It won best play at the New York Drama Critics’ Circle. He and most of the cast reprised their roles in the movie adaption of Raisin in the Sun (1961). It was his first movie role, and after that there was no stopping him. He went on to television and films, always delivering a masterful performance. Although he starred on stage, in TV and films he generally played a supporting role. Like Morgan Freeman, his roles often fit within the Magical Negro trope.

Personal Data

Lou Gossett, Jr. and Peter Barton, The Powers of Matthew Star {image via Paramount}

Lou Gosett, Jr. was married three times. He also is survived by sons Satie, a producer-director from his second marriage, and Sharron, a chef whom he adopted after seeing the 7-year-old in a TV segment on children in desperate situations. His first cousin is fellow actor  Robert Gossett. No cause of death has been announced yet, although octogenarianism was probably a factor.

His first wife was Hattie Glascoe. They wed in 1967, but the union was annulled a year later. He married Christina Mangosing in 1973. They divorced in 1975. His third wife was Cyndi James-Reese. They married in 1987 and divorced in 1992. He founded the Eracism Foundation to help create a world where racism doesn’t exist. In 2010, he published an autobiography, An Actor and a Gentleman.

Our condolences and comfort to those he leaves behind, and thank you, Lou, for the years of great performances. 87 years wasn’t enough.

-30 –

Susan Macdonald
Susan Macdonald

Susan Macdonald is the author of the children’s book “R is for Renaissance Faire”, as well as 26 short stories, mostly fantasy in “Alternative Truths”, “Swords and Sorceress ”, Swords &Sorceries Vols. 1, 2, & 5, “Cat Tails” “Under Western Stars”, and “Knee-High Drummond and the Durango Kid”. Her articles have appeared on’s web site, in The Inquisitr, and in The Millington Star. She enjoys Renaissance Faires (see book above), science fiction conventions,  Highland Games, and Native American pow-wows.