Some of Louis Gossett Jr.’s Best Roles

Actor Louis Gossett Jr. attends the Art For Amnesty Pre-Golden Globes Recognition Brunch at Chateau Marmont on January 8, 2016 in Los Angeles, California
John Sciulli/Getty Images for Amnesty International USA

Actor Louis Gossett Jr. passed away at age 87. He will be forever remembered as the first Black man to win a Supporting Actor Oscar. He was also an Emmy winner for his role in the iconic miniseries Roots. For a man who had many great roles over the years as he began his career as a young man, let’s go over some of his best.


Roots Louis Gossett Jr., 1977

Warner Bros Television/Everett Collection

One of Gossett Jr.’s earlier roles and one of his most famous was portraying Fiddler in the ’70s miniseries Roots. In 2022, he opened up about the miniseries and shared, “I think it’s relevant more now than ever, because we’re on the brink of being one nation under God, indivisible. So now we have the ability to maybe unite the world with a common credo that is going to take mankind to save mankind.”

‘An Officer and a Gentleman’

Louis Gossett Jr. holds his Best Supporting Actor Oscar for An Officer and a Gentleman

Everett Collection

Perhaps his most important role, Gossett Jr. received an Oscar for his role of Sgt. Emil Foley. He received the award in 1982 and his speech was short and sweet. He said, in part, “I’ve got a spirit that guides me, starting with my great-grandmother who died at the age of 117, and my mom and dad who I know are watching, and my cousin Yvonne*. Thank you, you make everything fall into place. And all you other four guys, this is ours [holding up the Oscar]. Thank you.”

‘The Color Purple’

The Color Purple Louis Gossett Jr., 2023

Eli Ade/Warner Bros./Everett Collection

One of his final roles was in the 2023 remake of The Color Purple. He played Ol’ Mister Johnson, in the same year that marked the 40th anniversary of his Oscar win. He believed now was a great time to revisit the story and explained, “Since I’m still here, I’m devoted to the absolute, bottom line truth about our existence together as mankind.”

‘The Punisher’

The Punisher Louis Gossett Jr., 1989

New World Pictures/Everett Collection

In 1989, Gossett Jr. portrayed Jake Berkowitz in the Marvel film The Punisher. He shined as a police officer and friend of Frank Castle, known as The Punisher, aiming to take out criminals in the city after his family was murdered.

‘Enemy Mine’

Enemy Mine Louis Gossett Jr., 1985

Everett Collection

Gossett Jr. proved he could really do it all as he starred in this science-fiction film in 1985. He played Jeriba “Jerry” Shigan opposite Dennis Quaid about an alien and a human who become trapped on a planet and need each other to survive, despite their initial distrust.

Gossett Jr. also guest-starred on some fan-favorite shows over the years including Little House on the Prairie, The Rockford Files, Good Times, The Jeffersons, Bonanza, The Partridge Family, and many more. He was truly a talented actor and starred in so many classics. At the time of his death, he had over a dozen projects in development. He will be missed.


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