John Amos Pays Tribute to Best Friend and “Roots” Costar Louis Gossett Jr.: ‘One of the Most Gifted Actors on Television’ (Exclusive)

The 'Officer and a Gentleman' actor's family announced his death on Friday

<p>Rob Kim/Getty; Paras Griffin/Getty</p>

Rob Kim/Getty; Paras Griffin/Getty

John Amos is remembering fellow actor and close friend, Louis Gossett Jr.

The family of Gossett Jr., best known for his celebrated work in Roots and An Officer and a Gentleman, announced his death in a statement obtained by PEOPLE on Friday. He was 87.

Now, Amos, 84, is paying tribute to the late legend, telling PEOPLE in an exclusive statement, "Lou Gossett was one of the most gifted actors in television who I truly admired."

He continued, "I admired him for his natural gifts as an actor and for the human being that he was. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to work with him and get to know him. We were both fortunate to work together as fellow actors on Roots.

Related: Richard Gere Remembers His Officer and a Gentleman Costar Louis Gossett Jr.: 'He Drove Every Scene'

"From that point, our friendship began and over the years, we became brothers and the best of friends over time," Amos added. "That is something I will always cherish. His name was Lou. L for a human being who was full of Life. O for his unique ability as an Observer. U for his Unselfish approach to living. He will be missed."

Gossett Jr.'s family said in Friday's statement to PEOPLE, "It is with our heartfelt regret to confirm our beloved father passed away this morning. We would like to thank everyone for their condolences at this time. Please respect the family's privacy during this difficult time."

The Associated Press was the first to report news of Gossett's death after the actor's nephew told the outlet that he died Thursday night in Santa Monica, California. A cause of death has yet to be revealed.

Related: Leslie Uggams Remembers 'Roaring with Laughter' with Her Late Roots Costar Louis Gossett Jr. (Exclusive)

<p>Taylor Hill/Getty</p>

Taylor Hill/Getty

In his final interview with PEOPLE, Gossett, the first Black performer to win a best supporting actor Oscar for his role in 1982's An Officer and a Gentlemen, shared hope about going to Heaven one day.

"I’m not afraid to die and the fact of going to heaven," the actor said in January. "I know they are having some great concerts up there."

"I know that and my heroes and heroines are up there and I think it's different from what we think it is and the old days," he added. "I think after we make that transition, I think it's going to be a great time."

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The New York City native began acting on the stage in 1950s Broadway shows like Take a Giant StepThe Desk Set, and A Raisin in the Sun. He made his big screen debut in the 1961 film adaptation of the latter production.

The A Raisin in the Sun film adaptation was released two years after the original Lorraine Hansberry play premiered on Broadway; Gossett Jr. acted alongside the legendary Sidney Poitier in both the stage play and the film.

From there, Gossett Jr. embarked on an acting career that lasted more than six decades. IMDb credits the actor with over 200 roles to his name and 12 projects that were still in the works before his death.

He most recently appeared in 2023's The Color Purple movie musical, as well as in two episodes of the BET+ series Kingdom Business.

Gossett Jr., who had been married and divorced three times, is survived by his two adult sons, Satie and Sharron.

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