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A Look at Louis Gossett Jr.'s Incredible Life in Photos

The Academy Award-winning actor died on March 28, 2024. He was 87

<p>Elisa Leonelli/Shutterstock</p> Louis Gossett Jr. at the 1983 Oscars

Elisa Leonelli/Shutterstock

Louis Gossett Jr. at the 1983 Oscars

Louis Gossett Jr. has had one of the most impactful careers in film and television.

The beloved actor, who was revered for his work in Roots, An Officer and a Gentleman, Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married Too and The Color Purple, died on March, 28 per the Associated Press. His nephew told the outlet that he died in Santa Monica, California. He is survived by his two adult sons, Satie and Sharon.

In commemoration of his incredible life and legacy, see Louis Gossett Jr.'s life in photos below.

Louis Gossett Jr.'s Serendipitous Start

<p>courtesy everett collection</p> Louis Gossett Jr. and Sidney Poitier

courtesy everett collection

Louis Gossett Jr. and Sidney Poitier

Louis Gossett Jr. was in training to be a New York Knick when he got the call from Lorraine Hansberry to star in the original 1959 Broadway production of A Raisin in the Sun.

"They said the part comes with $700 per diem, more money than most professional athletes had in the bank at the time. I put the basketball down, and the rest is history," he told PEOPLE earlier this year.

Louis Gossett Jr. Stars in 'Roots'

<p>courtesy everett collection</p>

courtesy everett collection

In 1977, Gossett Jr., pictured above with Levar Burton, starred as Fiddler in the groundbreaking TV series, Roots. The actor would go on to win an Emmy for his powerful performance.

Louis Gossett Jr. Hits the Big Screen

<p>Paramount/courtesy Everett Collection</p> Louis Gossett with Richard Gere

Paramount/courtesy Everett Collection

Louis Gossett with Richard Gere

Now an established actor, the New York Native starred as the no-nonsense Marine Sgt. Emil Foley opposite Richard Gere in the 1982 drama, An Officer and a Gentleman.

Louis Gossett Jr. Wins Gold

<p>Bill Nation/Sygma via Getty</p> Louis Gossett Jr, wins an Oscar

Bill Nation/Sygma via Getty

Louis Gossett Jr, wins an Oscar

Gossett became the first Black Best Supporting Actor Oscar winner for his performance in the Taylor Hackford-directed film. "I was in shock," he said of the historic moment. "It's been a great life."

Louis Gossett Jr. Snags a Golden Globe

<p>Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty</p> Louis Gossett Jr. during 49th Annual Golden Globe Awards

Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty

Louis Gossett Jr. during 49th Annual Golden Globe Awards

The film also won him a Golden Globe for best supporting actor. He would go on to snag another trophy in the same category for his role in 1992's The Josephine Baker Story.

Louis Gossett Jr. Is Live from New York

<p>Alan Singer/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank</p> Louis Gossett Jr. on 'SNL'

Alan Singer/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

Louis Gossett Jr. on 'SNL'

In 1982, the multi-faceted actor showed off his comedy skills by hosting an episode of Saturday Night Live. Above, he is pictured in character alongside Joe Piscopo, Tim Kazurinsky, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Brad Hall.

Louis Gossett Jr. Plays Around with Richard Pryor

<p>ABC Photo Archives/Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty </p> Louis Gossett Jr. with Richard Pryor

ABC Photo Archives/Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty

Louis Gossett Jr. with Richard Pryor

"We had a ball," Gossett told PEOPLE about his time shooting a 1971 episode of the television sitcom, The Patridge Family alongside Richard Pryor. "It was amazing working with him."

Louis Gossett Jr. Opens Up About Fatherhood

<p>Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty</p> Louis Gossett Jr. with his sons Sharron Anthony Gossett and Satie Gossett

Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty

Louis Gossett Jr. with his sons Sharron Anthony Gossett and Satie Gossett

Gossett, who was married three times, leaves behind two adult sons, Sharron and Satie, and some grandchildren. "Fatherhood is not always easy," the actor admitted.

"No time for error. The magnifying glass is on you and there is a lot of pressure. The good news is the success of my sons," he said of Satie, 49, who's a producer-director and Sharron, 46, who's a chef.

Louis Gossett Jr.'s Activism

<p>Mark Sullivan/WireImage</p> Louis Gossett Jr.

Mark Sullivan/WireImage

Louis Gossett Jr.

In 2017, Gossett opened up about the time he was racially profiled by cops while in Beverly Hills back in 1966. "They cuffed me to a tree," he stated. Through his Eracism Foundation, he aimed to create more unity saying, "We reject any kind of injustice. We need each other."

Louis Gossett Jr.'s Everlasting Legacy

<p>George Peper / TV Guide / Courtesy Everett Collection</p> Louis Gossett Jr.

George Peper / TV Guide / Courtesy Everett Collection

Louis Gossett Jr.

When looking back at his life, Gossett emphasized the importance of doing better. "We improve one generation at a time for the benefit of us all," the actor told PEOPLE in 2016. "That's the role of an elder."

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