The first Black Academy Award winning best actor, Poitier died at the age of 94 from undisclosed causes.
Poitier was born in 1927 and moved to New York City from the Bahamas with his family at 16-years-old. He began working at the American Negro Theater as a custodian in exchange for acting classes.
His legendary 71-year film career began in 1950’s “No Way Out,” which would be the first of his many movies that tackled racial hatred and social justice related themes for the next two decades.
Poitier earned a Golden Globe for 1959’s “The Defiant Ones,” and became the first Black actor nominated for an Oscar, but did not take home the statue until 1963 for his work in “Lilies of the Field.”
He emerged as one of the most popular actors in Hollywood for roles in interracial romance, “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,” “Patch of Blue,” and “In the Heat of The Night.”
Poitier moved into the director’s chair in the 70s and 80s with flicks “Buck and the Preacher,” “Uptown Saturday Night,” “Let’s Do It Again,” and “Stir Crazy.”
He returned to the silver screen in 1988’s “Shoot to Kill” and “Little Nikita,” then transitioned into TV mini series roles in the 90s, when he notably played Nelson Mandela in 1997’s “Mandela and the Clerk.”
His final movie performance was as Henry Cobb in 2001’s The Last Brickmaker in America.”
Tributes have poured in from heartbroken celebrities and fans alike.
“Sidney Poitier, the first Black man to win an Oscar, has died at the age of 94. The star of “Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner” and “Lilies of the Field,” for which he won Best Actor, was a trailblazer who will be mourned by so many for whom he opened the very doors of Hollywood,” wrote “Star Trek” star George Takei.
“What a landmark actor. One of a kind. What a beautiful, gracious, warm, genuinely regal man. RIP, Sir. With love,” posted “Westworld” actor Jeffrey Wright.
“This beautiful, brilliant, talented Black man. Rest in Peace and Power,” tweeted the NAACP’s Sherrilyn Ifill.
Rest In Power, Sir Sidney Poitier. pic.twitter.com/NlQmUXZC6N
— Nina Turner (@ninaturner) January 7, 2022