Photo of Louis Gossett Jr. Louis Gossett Jr.

Pushed into acting as a high school student after a sports injury, Louis Gossett Jr. was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., on May 27, 1936, and broke onto Broadway at age 16, turning down a professional contract with the New York Knicks to play the lead a few years later in "A Raisin in the Sun."

Gossett reprised the role in his film debut (1961) and found widespread acclaim the following decade with an Emmy-winning role in the epic television miniseries Roots (1977) and an Emmy-nominated performance in the miniseries Backstairs at the White House (1979). But he is most often linked with his powerful portrayal of a hard-nosed drill sergeant in An Officer and a Gentleman (1982), a performance that earned him an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.

Career highlights since then include a pair of Emmy-nominated performances in the miniseries Sadat (1983) and A Gathering of Old Men (1987).

Louis Gossett Jr. in The Josephine Baker Story

The Josephine Baker Story

1991 R

Before Madonna, even before Marilyn, there was Josephine Baker (Lynn Whitfield), an African-American entertainer who rose from the crumbs of St. Louis society to become the toast of Paris nightlife in the 1920s and '30s. After escaping the vaudeville circuit in the United States, she gains fame and glory abroad for her scantily clad "banana dance." But when she returns to America, she must confront the racism she left behind.

  • Louis Gossett Jr. in An Officer and a Gentleman An Officer and a Gentleman
  • Louis Gossett Jr. in A Raisin in the Sun A Raisin in the Sun
  • Louis Gossett Jr. in Enemy Mine Enemy Mine
  • Louis Gossett Jr. in The Grace Card The Grace Card
  • Louis Gossett Jr. in Left Behind: World at War Left Behind: World at War
  • Louis Gossett Jr. in The Perfect Game The Perfect Game
  • Louis Gossett Jr. in Jaws 3 Jaws 3
  • Louis Gossett Jr. in Toy Soldiers Toy Soldiers
  • Louis Gossett Jr. in The Deep The Deep
  • Louis Gossett Jr. in Punisher Punisher
  • Louis Gossett Jr. in Daddy's Little Girls Daddy's Little Girls
  • Louis Gossett Jr. in Amazing Racer Amazing Racer
  • Louis Gossett Jr. in A Fighting Man A Fighting Man
  • Louis Gossett Jr. in Broadway Theatre Archive: Freeman Broadway Theatre Archive: Freeman
  • Louis Gossett Jr. in Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married Too? Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married Too?
  • Louis Gossett Jr. in Lackawanna Blues Lackawanna Blues
  • Louis Gossett Jr. in Solar Attack Solar Attack
  • Louis Gossett Jr. in Roots Roots
  • Louis Gossett Jr. in A Gathering of Old Men A Gathering of Old Men
  • Louis Gossett Jr. in Diggstown Diggstown
  • Louis Gossett Jr. in Iron Eagle 4: On the Attack Iron Eagle 4: On the Attack
  • Louis Gossett Jr. in Bram Stoker's The Mummy Bram Stoker's The Mummy
  • Louis Gossett Jr. in Cover Cover
  • Louis Gossett Jr. in Why We Laugh Why We Laugh
  • Louis Gossett Jr. in The Lamp The Lamp
  • Louis Gossett Jr. in Backstairs at the White House Backstairs at the White House
  • Louis Gossett Jr. in The Principal The Principal
  • Louis Gossett Jr. in Iron Eagle II Iron Eagle II
  • Louis Gossett Jr. in The Mad About You Collection The Mad About You Collection
  • Louis Gossett Jr. in Return to Lonesome Dove Return to Lonesome Dove
  • Louis Gossett Jr. in The Wall That Heals The Wall That Heals
  • Louis Gossett Jr. in Love Songs Love Songs
  • Louis Gossett Jr. in The Highwayman The Highwayman
  • Louis Gossett Jr. in Terminal Countdown Terminal Countdown
  • Louis Gossett Jr. in What About Your Friends: Weekend Get-Away What About Your Friends: Weekend Get-Away
  • Louis Gossett Jr. in Jasper, Texas Jasper, Texas
  • Louis Gossett Jr. in All In All In
  • Louis Gossett Jr. in African Footprint African Footprint
  • Louis Gossett Jr. in The Least Among You The Least Among You
  • Louis Gossett Jr. in Let Freedom Sing Let Freedom Sing
  • Louis Gossett Jr. in Smitty Smitty