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NY1 Exclusive: Actor Gossett Jr. Recalls Journey that Began at Coney Island School

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Academy Award winning actor Louis Gossett Jr. is returning to his old middle school stomping grounds in Coney Island for a special honor. NY1's Jeanine Ramirez filed the following report.

Louis Gossett Jr. recalls his days growing up in Coney Island.

"In the streets we played stickball or punchball but the bat was a broomstick handle with the broom cut off. And a homerun was three sewers," Gossett said.

Gossett also played in the park re-named for his middle school principal Leon Kaiser. Gossett attended IS 239 best known as Mark Twain Junior High School and became class president.

"It was Mark Twain that started it all. My coming out if you want to call it that. What a wonderful thing for an African American boy in the late 40's and early 50's to be elected the most popular person in a junior high school," Gossett said.

Gossett will walk Mark Twain's hallways once again. In March, the school will honor him as its first inductee into the Alumni Association's Hall of Fame.

"One of the great things about Mark Twain is that we have a wonderful experience where we blend the arts and academics and having someone come back like Lou Gossett who is an absolutely successful performer who has given back to the community, was born and raised here in Coney Island, we're really excited," said Principal Karen Ditolla.

Gossett even worked at Nathans. But then went on to the stage and screen winning numerous awards for his work including Golden Globes, Emmys and the Academy Award for his role in "An Officer and a Gentleman."

While he has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, he will soon have a plaque on Mark Twain's Wall of Fame.

"That blows me away. That's just like an Oscar," Gossett said.

The school's goal is for students to be inspired by Gossett's success story.

"I have a message for them. That no such thing is impossible. And lessons are more than in school. They're in the neighborhoods and to keep the eye on the prize," Gossett said.

In addition to the induction ceremony Gossett will also be honored at the school gala. ClientIP:, UserAgent: CCBot/2.0 ( Profile: TWCSAMLSP