Oscar-Winning ‘Iron Eagle’ And ‘The Punisher’ Actor Louis Gossett, Jr., Dead At 87

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Louis Gossett, Jr. in The Punisher (1989), New World Pictures

Another mainstay of film and television over the last 50 years has left us. Louis Gossett, Jr., the Oscar and Emmy winner best known for his work in An Officer and a Gentleman and the original Roots miniseries is dead.

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Louis Gossett, Jr., is an officer and a Sergeant in An Officer and A Gentleman (1982), Paramount Pictures

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Gossett, who was 87, died in Santa Monica, California, on Friday morning from an undisclosed cause according to The Associated Press and his family.

“Never mind the awards, never mind the glitz and glamor, the Rolls-Royces, and the big houses in Malibu. It’s about the humanity of the people that he stood for,” his cousin Neal L. Gossett said to the AP.

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Louis Gossett, Jr., as Chappy Sinclair in Iron Eagle (1986), TriStar Pictures

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Credited for his activism and supporting roles, Louis Gossett, Jr., called his win of the Academy Award for Best Supporting in An Officer and a Gentleman “a huge affirmation of my position as a Black actor,” in his 2010 memoir appropriately titled An Actor and a Gentleman.

However, Gossett took on very diverse roles – especially in the 80s – and to fans, is celebrated most for his parts in cult classic films such as Iron Eagle, its sequels, and Enemy Mine.

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Dennis Quaid and Louis Gossett, Jr., in Enemy Mine (1985), 20th Century Studios

In many instances, such as that of Enemy Mine, these would flop in theaters but find an audience over the years on home video or through showings on cable.

He was also part – and what many consider a highlight – of Marvel’s vain attempt at turning The Punisher into an action franchise with Dolph Lundgren as the star. Despite its bleak reception, the movie developed a following like much of Gossett’s filmography.

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Jake (Louis Gossett, Jr.) holds Frank Castle’s (Dolph Lundgren) calling card in The Punisher (1989), New World Pictures

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He dipped his toe in the waters of the superhero genre again in the HBO sequel adaptation of Alan Moore’s Watchmen which drew more from the graphic novel than the 2009 movie.

Playing the elderly retired cop Will Reeves, aka Hooded Justice, he starred alongside an eclectic cast comprised of Don Johnson, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Jeremy Irons, and Regina King. His final performance was in the 2023 version of The Color Purple.

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Louis Gossett, Jr., is an officer and a Watchman in Watchmen (2019), HBO

Gossett became one of those reliable character actors who never seemed to turn down a part and delivered an entertaining performance no matter the genre.

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