Louis Cameron Gossett Jr. (born May 27, 1936) is an American actor. He is perhaps best known for his role as Gunnery Sergeant Emil Foley in the 1982 film An Officer and a Gentleman, and his role as Fiddler in the 1977 ABC television miniseries Roots. Gossett has also starred in numerous film productions including A Raisin In The Sun, The Landlord, Skin Game, Travels with My Aunt, The Laughing Policeman, The Deep, Jaws 3-D (1983), Wolfgang Petersen"s Enemy Mine, the Iron Eagle series, Toy Soldiers and The Punisher, in an acting career that spans over five decades.
Gossett was born in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, New York, on May 27, 1936, to Hellen Rebecca (née Wray), a nurse, and Louis Gossett Sr., a porter. He is an alumnus of Mark Twain Intermediate School 239 and Abraham Lincoln High School. His stage debut came at the age of 17, in a school production of You Can"t Take It with You when a sports injury resulted in the decision to take an acting class. Polio had already delayed his graduation.
After graduating from Abraham Lincoln High School in 1954, he attended New York University, declining an athletic scholarship. Standing 6"4" (1.93 m), he was offered the opportunity to play varsity basketball during his college years at NYU, which he declined to concentrate on theater. His high school teacher had encouraged him to audition for a Broadway part, which resulted in his selection for a starring role on Broadway in 1953 from among 200 other actors well before he entered NYU.
Gossett replaced Bill Gunn as Spencer Scott in Broadway"s Take a Giant Step, which was selected by The New York Times drama critics as one of the 10 best shows of the year. He was 17, and still a student at Abraham Lincoln High School, with no formal drama training.
Gossett"s Broadway theatre credits include A Raisin in the Sun (1959). Gossett stepped into the world of cinema in the Sidney Poitier vehicle A Raisin in the Sun in 1961.
Also in 1961, Gossett appeared in the original cast of Jean Genet"s The Blacks, the longest