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Louis Gossett Jr., star of the Oscar-winning film “An Officer and a Gentleman,” has died at the age of 87.

Louis Gossett Jr., star of the Oscar-winning film “An Officer and a Gentleman,” has died at the age of 87.

(CNN) — Louis Gossett Jr., the Oscar-winning film and television star for his role in “An Officer and a Gentleman,” has died at the age of 87, according to a statement from his family.

“We are truly sorry to confirm the passing of our beloved father this morning. We would like to thank everyone for their condolences at this time. Please respect the family's privacy during this difficult time,” the family's statement, shared by Gossett's publicist, read. .

Gosset made his acting debut as a teenager after a basketball injury sidelined him and he signed up for acting classes, where he ended up finding his calling.

His first Broadway role was when he was 15, when he starred in the play “Take A Giant Step.” Gossett continued to hone his craft with his eyes set on Hollywood, Take acting lessons Along with figures such as Marilyn Monroe and Martin Landau.

But being a black actor wasn't easy.

“I had to learn the importance of what it takes to survive in this city, and I had to act like I was second class,” he said. “I had to take responsibility for being an African-American person in America.”

Susan Sarandon and Christopher Reeves flank Louis Gossett Jr., winner of the 1982 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for “An Officer and a Gentleman.” (Bettman Archive/Getty Images)

In 1961, Gossett made his film debut in A Raisin in the Sun. He later appeared in several films. “Black Exploitation”, But he had difficulty getting the bigger roles to which he felt called until 1977, when he played Fiddler in the groundbreaking television series “Roots.” His performance earned him an Emmy Award.

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This was followed by his groundbreaking 1982 portrayal of a naval instructor in “An Office and a Gentleman.” Qawsi continued to play tougher military roles in the films “Iron Eagle” and the short series “Sadat,” where he played the role of the late Egyptian leader.

In 1992, he won a Golden Globe Award for his role as civil rights activist Sidney Williams in the HBO series The Josephine Baker Story.

the actor He was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2010 She decided to break the news “to set an example to the large number of African-American men who have fallen victim to this disease due to the relatively low emphasis in our society on preventive screenings and early treatment.”

“I want to influence them to get, as I did, the excellent medical care and early detection that is available now,” he said at the time.

But that did not prevent him from doing the work he loved. He had a decade of success, primarily on television shows such as “Madame Secretary,” “Hap and Leonard,” and HBO’s “Watchmen.” He recently impressed fans with his portrayal of the steadfast Ol' Mister in the film adaptation of the Broadway musical “The Color Purple.”