An Actor and A Gentleman

MON, NOV 8, 2010 (1:20:29)

Lou Gossett, Jr. is one of the most respected African American stage and screen actors, rising to fame with his Emmy-winning role in the television miniseries Roots and Oscar-winning performance in An Officer and a Gentleman. From his early success on the New York stage appearing with Ruby Dee and Sidney Poitier in A Raisin in the Sun and through most of his long career in Hollywood, he has struggled to get leading roles and fair pay as a black actor. Gossett speaks frankly of his problem with drugs and alcohol that took years to overcome and his current work to eradicate racism and violence and give our children a better future. He is joined by his writer, Phyllis Karas, biographer and professor of journalism.

+ BIO: Lou Gossett Jr.

Louis Cameron Gossett, Jr. is an Emmy, Golden Globe, and Academy Award winning American actor. Louis Gossett, Jr. was born May 27, 1936, in Sheepshead Bay, Coney Island, Brooklyn, New York. He was raised by his mother Hellen Rebecca Wray Gossett and his father, Louis Gossett, Sr. A sports injury left Gossett, Jr. with no choice but to take an acting class, and at 16 he made his stage debut in the school’s production of You Can’t Take It with You. After graduating high school, he attended New York University, on an athletic scholarship, where he was a star basketball player. The New York Knicks were so impressed with Gossett’s athletic ability, that they made him an offer of a professional contract upon graduation. He played with them briefly in 1958, before choosing to focus completely on his acting career. After leaving the New York Knicks, Gossett took a big step into the world of cinema in the Sidney Poitier vehicle A Raisin in the Sun in 1961. Gossett’s Broadway theatre credits include A Raisin in the Sun (1959), Golden Boy (1964), and Chicago (2002). He also has performed in other media, including television productions. In fact, it was his Emmy award-winning role of “Fiddler” in the 1977 groundbreaking television miniseries Roots that first gave Gossett audience’s attention. In 1983, Gossett was cast in the title role in Sadat, a miniseries which chronicled the life and assassination of Anwar Sadat. While filming An Officer and a Gentleman, Gossett was also starring in the 1982–1983 science fiction series, The Powers of Matthew Star. Gossett is the voice of the Vortigaunts in the video game Half-Life 2 (although he did not return for it’s sequel Episode Two) and is also the Free Jaffa Leader (Gerak) in Season 9 of Stargate SG-1. In 2007, Lou Gossett, Jr., was the honored guest and keynote speaker for the alumni hall of fame gala benefiting Boys & Girls Clubs of the Suncoast, St. Petersburg, Florida. Mr. Gossett has appeared every year supporting the Boys and Girls Clubs of America. He is an alumnus himself and has continued to work for and with the organization.

+ BIO: Phyllis Karas

Phyllis Karas is the co-author of “The Onassis Women: An Eyewitness Account,” (Putnam, 1998), which she wrote with Aristotle Onassis’ private secretary, Kiki Feroudi Moutsatsos. Her published works also include “A Life Worth Living” (St. Martin’s Press, 1980), and the young adult novels, “The Hate Crime” (Avon, 1996), “Cry Baby” (Avon, 1997), “For Lucky’s Sake” (Avon, 1998), and “Spellbound” (Avon, 1999). She has co-authored two books dealing with Whitey Bulger and the South Boston Irish Mob: “Street Soldier: My Life as an Enforcer for Whitey Bulger and the Boston Irish Mob” (Steerforth Press, 2003) and “Brutal: The Untold Story of my Life Inside Whitey Bulger’s Irish Mob” (HarperCollins, 2006), which was on the NYT Best Seller List. “An Actor and a Gentleman” (John Wiley & Sons) is her ninth book. She is a stringer for People magazine and an adjunct professor at Boston University School of Journalism.

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