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Sidney Poitier, legendary actor and first Black best actor Oscar winner, dead at 94

Sidney Poitier death
Sidney Poitier was one of the last surviving major stars from the Golden Age of Hollywood before his death. Pic credit: ©ImageCollect.com/StarMaxWorldwide

Sir Sidney Poitier, Hollywood’s first Black movie star, has died at age 94.

He was a trailblazing legendary actor who broke barriers for other Black actors and was the first to win an Academy Award for Best Actor.

He starred in movies such as  A Raisin in the Sun, A Patch of Blue, and films that dealt with race relations, such as In the Heat of the Night.

The actor refused roles that portrayed negative racial stereotypes during his career.

Poitier died in the Bahamas on January 6, 2022, and his cause of death is yet to be confirmed.

Bahamas Minister of Foreign Affairs Fred Mitchell confirmed the actor’s passing, saying, “We’ve lost a great a Bahamian, and I’ve lost a personal friend,” the statement read, according to TVLine.

The late actor earned his first Oscar nomination, The Defiant Ones, in which he played an escaped convict.

Eight years later, he won the Academy Award and the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor for his role in the 1963 movie Lilies of the Field.

He portrayed Homer Smith, a handyman helping a group of German-speaking nuns build a chapel.

Tributes pour in for Sidney Poitier

Denzel Washington praised Poitier when he became the second Black man to win an Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of crooked detective Alonzo Harris in the 2001 film Training Day.

Washington said during his acceptance speech: “I’ll always be chasing you, Sidney. I’ll always be following in your footsteps. There’s nothing I would rather do, sir.”

The late actor picked up the Honorary Academy Award that same night and following his death, several tributes have poured in to honor Poitier.

Jeffrey Wright paid tribute to his acting talent and character on Twitter.

“Sidney Poitier. What a landmark actor. One of a kind. What a beautiful, gracious, warm, genuinely regal man. RIP, Sir. With love..”

Bernice King, the daughter of Martin Luther King. Jr remembered when Poitier joined the 1968 Poor People’s Campaign, which was a protest to gain economic justice for poor people after her father’s assassination.

Watch Sidney Poitier’s Oscar speech after the ground-breaking win

After Poitier became the first Black actor to win the Academy Award for Best Actor, he kept the speech short, thanking those who helped create the movie Lillies of the Field.

Sidney Poitier married former Canadian actress Joanna Shimkus in 1976 and remained with her until his death. He is survived by his six daughters, eight grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.

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