Louis Gossett Jr.: Cause of death revealed for Oscar-winning actor

Louis Gossett Jr.

Academy Award-winning actor Louis Gossett Jr. reportedly died from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, according to his death certificate.

>> Read more trending news

Gossett, 87, the first Black man to win a supporting actor Oscar for his role as Sgt. Emil Foley in the 1982 film “An Officer and a Gentleman,” died on March 29 in Santa Monica, California.

He died from COPD, a lung condition, People reported. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, COPD refers to a group of diseases that cause airflow blockage and breathing-related problems. The condition includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis.

TMZ was the first outlet to report on Gossett’s cause of death. The website, which said it obtained the actor’s death certificate, added that heart failure and atrial fibrillation were contributing factors in his death.

Gossett was the second Black man to win an Academy Award. Sidney Poitier took Best Actor honors for his role in the 1963 film, “Lilies of the Field.”

Gossett was also known for his career-defining role in the 1977 groundbreaking television miniseries “Roots,” which earned him an Emmy Award. He played the role of Fiddler, an older slave who teaches Kunta Kinte to speak English in the eight-part miniseries.

Some of Gossett’s other key performances came in the 2019 television series “Watchmen,” “Boardwalk Empire” (2010), the “Iron Eagle” film series in 1986, “Enemy Mine” (1985), “The Deep” (1977) and the 2023 adaptation of the Broadway musical “The Color Purple,” according to He most recently appeared in two episodes of the television series “Kingdom Business” in 2022 and 2023,

After his death, Channel 2 Action News spoke with Gossett's friends and caregiver.

Gossett announced last year he was diagnosed with dementia.

C. Nathaniel Brown said Channel 2's Ashli Lincoln he worked with Gossett while creating a documentary about dementia, entitled “Remember Me: Dementia in the African American Community.”

He was honored last year at The Purple Affair, a fundraiser for Alzheimer’s awareness put on by the James M. Dixon Foundation.

“He wanted us to know there’s more and to look ahead, it’s up to me to make an impact and that’s what he said,” Brown told Lincoln.

His secondary caregiver Sonja Gunter said despite him having dementia, he was still alert which makes his passing surprising.

“I just wasn’t prepared for this news,” Gunter said.