Sidney Poitier, the first Black man to win an Oscar for Best Actor, has died aged 94, the Minister of Foreign Affairs for the Bahamas announced on Friday.
Poitier was best known for his work in Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967) and Lilies of the Field (1964), the latter giving him the step he needed to rise to fame as the first Black man and Bahamian to win an Oscar for Best Actor.
Sidney Poitier achieved his first lead film role in the 1955 film Blackboard Jungle, six years prior to his Oscar win. He also directed several films throughout his career, including the 1980 comedy Stir Crazy, which starred Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor.
Since his death on Thursday 6 January, countless tributes have been paid to the Hollywood star.
The Bahamas’ Deputy Prime Minister, Chester Cooper, said: “[I was] conflicted with great sadness and a sense of celebration when I learned of the passing of Sir Sidney Poitier.
“Sadness that he would no longer be here to tell him how much he means to us, but celebration that he did so much to show the world that those from the humblest beginnings can change the world.”
On becoming the second Black man to win an Oscar for Best Actor in 2001, Denzel Washington said: “I’ll always be chasing you, Sidney. I’ll always be following in your footsteps. There’s nothing I would rather do, sir.”
No Time to Die (2021) actor, Jeffrey Wright, also gave tribute to the Hollywood star: “Sidney Poitier. What a landmark actor. One of a kind. What a beautiful, gracious, warm, genuinely regal man. RIP, Sir. With love.”
Sidney Poitier was born in Miami in 1927 but was raised in the Bahamas by his parents until he was 15 years old.
Still a teenager, he returned to America to work, where he enlisted in the army and fought in the Second World War.
In 1940, he left the army to join the American Negro Theatre, kicking-starting a career which would help change the industry forever.
Words by Maddy Raine
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