Iconic actor Sidney Poitier has died at the age of 94 at his home in the Bahamas. Considered the first Black Hollywood superstar, Poitier was handsome, disciplined and strong – he could fly with fury one minute, and convey great dignity the next.
In 1958 he became the first Black actor to be nominated for the Best Actor Oscar for “The Defiant Ones” and then six years later the first to win one for “Lilies of the Field”. He remained the only Black Best Actor Oscar winner until Denzel Washington won for 2001’s “Training Day”.
Born in Miami, the Bahamian-American actor got into films in the 1950s with “No Way Out,” “Cry, The Beloved Country,” “Blackboard Jungle,” “Edge of the City” and an acclaimed turn in “Porgy and Bess” before breaking out in the 1960s with “A Raisin in the Sun,” “The Slender Thread,” “The Greatest Story Ever Told” and “A Patch in Blue”.
1967 was his big year though with three massive and iconic films all dealing with racial topics – “In the Heat of the Night,” “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?” and “To Sir, With Love” which turned him into the top box office star that year.
As roles dried up in the 1970s, he turned to directing – ultimately helming nine films including “Buck and the Preacher,” “Uptown Saturday Night” and “Stir Crazy”.
He returned to acting in the late 1980s and 1990s in films like “Little Nikita” and “The Jackal” along with a key supporting role alongside Robert Redford and River Phoenix in beloved 1992 cryptography heist thriller-caper film “Sneakers”. He also scored strong notices for his role as Nelson Mandela in Showtime’s “Mandela and de Klerk” mini-series.
Among his many honors he was granted the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama, an honorary knighthood by Queen Elizabeth II, a Kennedy Center Honor, and lifetime achievement honors from the Oscars, Golden Globes and SAG.
He also served as a member of the board of directors of The Walt Disney Company from 1995-2003 and served as ambassador of the Bahamas to Japan from 1997-2007.
Our sincerest condolences go out to his family, friends and fans.
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