Louis Gossett Jr.’s Cause of Death Released

NOVEMBER 11, 2013: Louis Gossett Jr at the Los Angeles premiere of "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom" at the Cinerama Dome, Hollywood. Picture: Paul Smith / Featureflash/Shutterstock

Three weeks after Louis Gossett Jr. died in Santa Monica, California at age 87, his cause of death has been released.

The acting legend passed away from complications of a lung condition called chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), according to the death certificate obtained by People magazine.

The document said heart failure and atrial fibrillation contributed to his death.

COPD “causes obstructed airflow from the lungs,” according to the Mayo Clinic. The condition leads to breathing difficulty, coughing, and or wheezing and is caused by long-term exposure to irritating particles in the air, most often from cigarette smoke.

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Gossett died on March 29, his family confirmed.

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

Gossett made history as the first Black man to win a best supporting actor Oscar in 1983, with the award recognizing his performance as a Marine drill instructor in An Officer and a Gentleman.

He took home an Emmy Award for his performance as enslaved musician “Fiddler” in the 1977 ABC miniseries Roots about the horrors of slavery.

Among his other television roles were parts in The Rockford Files, Good Times, The Jeffersons, Lackawanna Blues, Return to Lonesome Dove, Touched by an Angel, Watchmen, Kingdom Business, and numerous other projects.

Just before he died, he appeared as Ol’ Mister on the big screen in The Color Purple remake.

Earlier in his career, he appeared in the stage production of A Raisin in the Sun about a Black family’s experiences in Chicago, and in 1961 he co-starred in the film adaptation with Sidney Poitier, Claudia McNeil, and Ruby Dee.

Louis Gossett Jr. is survived by his sons Satie, who is a producer-director; and Sharron, who is a chef.