Louis Cameron Gossett, Jr. (born May 27, 1936) is an American actor best known for his role as Gunnery Sergeant Emil Foley in the 1982 film An Officer and a Gentleman and Fiddler in the 1970's television miniseries Roots. Gossett has also starred in numerous film productions such as The Deep, Jaws 3-D (as SeaWorld manager Calvin Bouchard), Wolfgang Peterson's Enemy Mine, the Iron Eagle series, Toy Soldiers and The Punisher. He has won an Academy Award, an Emmy Award, and two Golden Globe Award's in an acting career that spans over five decades.
Gossett, Jr. was born in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, New York, to Hellen Rebecca (née Wray), a nurse, and Louis Gossett, Sr., a porter. 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.