Louis Gossett, Jr.
Gossett made his professional acting debut at the age of 17, winning the Donaldson Award as best newcomer to theatre. He went to NYU on a basketball scholarship and was invited to try out for the NY Knicks, yet he decided to continue his acting career with a role in the Broadway production of "A Raisin in the Sun."
Gossett conceived and co-wrote the well-known song "Handsome Johnny" with Richie Havens. As the opening act for the original Woodstock, Havens performed "Handsome Johnny," as the 8th song in that historic first set. According to Havens, "...(Gossett) had gotten it up to the 'Dunkirk war'...I brought it up to date..." (From liner notes in The Best of Richie Havens CD, 1993). He and his ex-wife, Cyndi James Gossett, have an adopted son.
Was originally cast as Gale Sayers in the 1971 TV movie "Brian's Song" (1971). Just days before shooting began, Gossett tore his Achilles' tendon while working out for the film. The studio execs scrambled and quickly hired Billy Dee Williams as a replacement. Gossett, depressed over missing his "shot," was promised by producer David L. Wolper the first great role that came along. About six years later, Wolper called Gossett to play "Fiddler" in "Roots" (1977), the Emmy-winning role that made him a star!
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