Louis Gossett Jr. poses for a portrait in promotion of the upcoming release of “Roots: The Complete Original Series” on Blu-ray on Wednesday, May 11, 2016, in New York. (Photo by Amy Sussman/Invision/AP)

Louis Gossett Jr., a groundbreaking actor who won an Oscar and an Emmy in a career spanning nearly seven decades, died Friday, March 29, in Santa Monica at age 87.

“It is with our heartfelt regret to confirm our beloved father passed away this morning,” the actor’s family said in a statement. “We would like to thank everyone for their condolences at this time. Please respect the family’s privacy during this difficult time.”

Gossett became one of the most recognizable actors of his generation. He broke through on the small screen as Fiddler in the groundbreaking 1977 ABC miniseries “Roots,” which led to an Emmy Award. The miniseries was among the highest-rated programs in television history. “Roots” was based on Alex Haley’s best-selling book that traced the impact of slavery on a Black family across generations.

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Gossett became the first Black man to win an Oscar for best supporting actor for playing no-nonsense drill sergeant Gunnery Sgt. Emil Foley in the 1982 film “An Officer and a Gentleman.” The romantic drama co-starred Richard Gere and Debra Winger. He also won the Golden Globe for the same role.

“More than anything, it was a huge affirmation of my position as a Black actor,” he wrote in his memoir, “An Actor and a Gentleman.”

Gossett attended New York University on a basketball and drama scholarship and made appearances on TV shows hosted by David Susskind, Ed Sullivan, Red Buttons, Merv Griffin, Jack Paar and Steve Allen.

He went to Hollywood in 1961 to make the movie version of “A Raisin in the Sun.” He returned to Hollywood in 1968 to make an NBC made-for-TV movie, “Companions in Nightmare.”

He made guest appearances on TV shows including “Bonanza,” “The Rockford Files,” “The Mod Squad,” “McCloud” and “The Partridge Family” during his acting career.

Gossett’s final run of roles included Ol’ Mister Johnson in the 2023 film musical version of “The Color Purple,” and a voice part in the John Krasinski-directed fantasy “IF,” scheduled for release in May.

His co-stars from “The Color Purple” paid tribute to Gossett, with Fantasia Barrino, Colman Domingo and David Alan Grier all posting heartfelt messages on social media Friday.

Barrino wrote on Instagram, “What an Awesome Man you were and the stories you told us, I’ll never ever forget.”

Domingo wrote in his post, “We lost a true great. A true legend. What an honor to have been able to give him his flowers on his last day of his final film `The Color Purple’ where he played my father.”

Grier wrote, “Rest in peace Lou Gossett Jr. one of my fave acting heroes.”

Gossett was born on May 27, 1936, in Coney Island in Brooklyn, where he took an early interest in the performing arts. With the encouragement of a teacher, he tried out for the lead in the Broadway show “Take a Giant Step,” a drama about segregation in a New England town. Gossett won the role over 400 other contenders.

After graduating from high school in 1954, Gossett took classes at the Actors Studio workshop in Manhattan.

Gossett went on to land a supporting role in Broadway’s “Golden Boy” in 1964, a musical starring Sammy Davis Jr. That was followed by leading roles in plays such as “The Zulu and the Zayda” in 1965, and the comedy “Carry Me Back to Morningside Heights” in 1968.

Of all his roles, Gossett said his favorite was Egyptian President Anwar Sadat in the 1983 TV miniseries “Sadat.”

“Each day of this filming, I felt as if I was not acting,” he wrote in his memoir. “Instead, I was simply in the midst of a magic that consumed me, allowing me to glide effortlessly into my role and leave everything else behind.”

In addition to acting, Gossett had a musical talent. He sang and played guitar at Manhattan nightclubs and wrote with Richie Havens the antiwar anthem “Handsome Johnny.”

Memorial flowers were placed Friday on his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Gossett is survived by sons Satie, a producer and director, and Sharron, a chef he adopted.

He was married three times. The first time was to Hattie Glascoe, the second to Christina Mangosing, and the third to actor Cyndi James-Reese.