Holly Robinson Peete & Her Mom ‘Devastated’ by Loss: ‘Doesn’t Make Sense’

Dolores Robinson, Holly Robinson Peete

Heavy/Getty Holly Robinson Peete and her mom, Dolores Robinson, in 2022

On her way to deliver the keynote speech at the Los Angeles YMCA Good Friday breakfast on March 29, 2024, actress Holly Robinson Peete received word that Louis Gossett Jr. had died. As she took the stage, the longtime Hallmark star couldn’t help but put aside her notes and start out her speech by paying tribute to the legendary actor and beloved family friend, who was especially close with her mom for many decades.

“I just found out on the way down this morning, on the elevator, that I lost an amazing, beautiful friend,” Robinson Peete said from the podium, as seen in a video she later posted online.

“Many of you may know him — his name was Louis Gossett Jr.,” she continued as some in the crowd gasped at the news.

Gossett Jr. was the first Black man to win the Academy Award for supporting actor, earned for his role in “Officer and a Gentleman” in 1983, according to the Associated Press (AP). He also won an Emmy for his role in the 1977 TV miniseries “Roots.” The legendary actor, who appeared most recently in December’s “The Color Purple,” died at age 87 on March 29, the AP reported. 

Holly Robinson Peete Said She Used to Babysit One of Louis Gossett Jr.’s Sons

In the caption of her first Instagram post about Gossett Jr.’s death, Robinson Peete wrote that she was “devastated” by the loss, calling him “one of the nicest most gracious talented funny and kind people I’ve ever had the pleasure to know.”

“A world without Lou doesn’t make sense,” she concluded.

Robinson Peete explained in her speech that she met Gossett Jr. when she was 12, recalling that he was “so lovely to me” and that she became a babysitter for his son, Satie.

Adding that he was “so many things to so many people,” Robinson Peete shared that he was not only an “amazing actor,” but also a philanthropist and mentor to many.

“Just an awesome man and when I heard this, my heart just got sad,” she told the crowd, thanking them for allowing her to celebrate him.

Holly Robinson Peete’s Mom Had Been Friends With Louis Gossett Jr. Since 1974

Robinson Peete also shared a separate Instagram post featuring a clip from her former reality show “For Peete’s Sake,” which premiered on OWN in 2016, per IMDb. The show was a precursor to the family’s reality series “Meet the Peetes,” which premiered on Hallmark Channel in 2018.

“Mom I am so sorry for the loss of your great friend,” Robinson Peete captioned the video.

In the clip, Gossett Jr. meets up with her mom, Dolores Robinson, who was friends with the actor for many decades. According to Variety, Robinson was a talent manager whose clients included Martin Sheen, Pierce Brosnan, Wesley Snipes, Rosie Perez and Michael Clarke Duncan. The first client she signed, the outlet reported, was actor LeVar Burton, who co-starred with Gossett Jr. in “Roots” as Kunta Kinte.

In the clip of Gossett Jr. and Robinson, the old friends compared notes on being neighbors in Malibu, California, back when they were the only two Black people living in the area, she said.

“You were the first person that I met,” Robinson tells him in the clip, recalling her move to the coastal town, a popular home base for many celebrities, located west of Los Angeles.

Gossett Jr. joked that he had been relieved to see “somebody in Malibu that looked like you!”

“It was the beginning of a really great friendship,” Robinson told producers.

Robinson shared her own Instagram posts about Gossett Jr.’s death, including one in which she shared that Burton was the one who gave her the news.

“Early this morning, Kunta Kinte called to tell me that Fiddler had died,” she wrote. “Since I was LeVar Burton’s manager during Roots, I was so familiar with the kindness he showed LeVar Burton as this teenage actor in his first roll as Kunta Kinte. Lou was also my Malibu neighbor and my first California friend. We have stayed in touch since 1974.”

On March 30, she posted a photo of a rainbow taken from her patio that morning.

“It’s been a tough week,” she wrote. “Hoping this morning’s rainbow brings some good along with the rain.”

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