Hollywood legend Sidney Poitier has died at age 94.
The barrier-breaking Bahamian-American actor, who was the first Black man to win the Oscar for Best Actor, died on January 6. His death was announced by Bahamian Minister of Foreign Affairs Fred Mitchell and confirmed by a source close to the actor’s family, according to NBC News.
Poitier is survived by his wife of 45 years, Canadian actor Joanna Shimkus, and his six daughters.
I just talked to Bahamian Minister of Foreign Affairs Fred Mitchell regarding the passing of actor Sidney Poitier. "I understand from a family member that he passed away last night. We will be issuing a statement shortly." He was on hold for the Prime Minister and said he 1/2
— rolandsmartin (@rolandsmartin) January 7, 2022
BREAKING: Beloved Bahamian actor and former ambassador Sir Sidney Poitier has died. He was 94. A Broadway play about the trailblazing career of the visionary actor was announced last month. Sir Sidney's death was confirmed by Minister of Foreign Affairs Fred Mitchell. pic.twitter.com/WVJFlog3tC
— Eyewitness News Bahamas (@ewnewsbahamas) January 7, 2022
Poitier had a number of “firsts” in his career. He was the first Black actor to earn an Oscar nomination for Best Actor in 1958’s “The Defiant Ones” opposite Tony Curtis. He would become the first Black actor to win the award in 1964 for his role in “Lilies Of The Field”. Poitier was also the first Black man to kiss a white woman on film in 1965’s “A Patch Of Blue” with Elizabeth Hartman.
In his emotional Oscars speech, he called his win a “long journey to this moment.”
1964: Sidney Poitier’s Oscars acceptance speech after he became the first Black man to win an Academy Award for Best Actor
— philip lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) January 7, 2022
Throughout his career, which included roles in “Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner”, “In the Heat Of The Night”, and “A Raisin In The Sun”, Poitier refrained from playing any character that could be deemed “immoral” or “cruel.”
“If you go through my career, you’ll find that I didn’t. I didn’t ever,” he told CBS in 2013. Poitier retired from acting in 2001.
A tireless civil rights activist, Poitier was awarded the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom by Barack Obama in 2009.
Tributes poured in following news of his death.
Sidney Poitier. What a landmark actor. One of a kind. What a beautiful, gracious, warm, genuinely regal man. RIP, Sir. With love.
(📷Sam Falk/NYT) pic.twitter.com/5ZaKxxPdxw
— Jeffrey Wright (@jfreewright) January 7, 2022
If you wanted the sky i would write across the sky in letters that would soar a thousand feet high..
To Sir… with Love
Sir Sidney Poitier R.I.P.
He showed us how to reach for the stars
— Whoopi Goldberg (@WhoopiGoldberg) January 7, 2022
RIP Sidney Poitier, 94.
When he answered an ad for actors, as an illiterate young man, the theatre owner sneered: ‘Go be a dishwasher.’
Sidney already was a dishwasher.
Stung by the jibe, he vowed to prove him wrong.
He became the first black man to win the Best Actor Oscar. pic.twitter.com/JNpBWi8nwk
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) January 7, 2022
Sidney Poitier. An absolute legend. One of the greats. pic.twitter.com/jd2Xd7vmIJ
— Joseph Gordon-Levitt (@hitRECordJoe) January 7, 2022
RIP LEGEND😞 https://t.co/KawrrkhUc7
— David Harewood (@DavidHarewood) January 7, 2022
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.
— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) January 7, 2022
Nuance and power, humour and grit — Sidney Poitier had it all. Imagine what it meant to see him on the big screen in the 50s, 60s and 70s. Every word, every gesture was an inspiration. 💔 pic.twitter.com/mu58OpjLpo
— Cameron Bailey (@cameron_tiff) January 7, 2022
— Bakari Sellers (@Bakari_Sellers) January 7, 2022
Sidney Poitier was everything. A consummate, powerful actor. A man of grace and innate dignity. A leader and a groundbreaker. A good and gentle soul. I cherish his work . Sympathy and peace to his family and loved ones. #RIPSidneyPoitier
— jason alexander (@IJasonAlexander) January 7, 2022
😢#SidneyPoitier’s portrayal in “To Sir, with love” literally changed me. Always love watching all of his work on @tcm. This says it all: “Over his career, Poitier was repeatedly the FIRST.”-@HuffPost… #RipSidneyPoitier TY for EVERYTHING you gave us. Condolences to his family. https://t.co/qDS7BCT0ah
— Rosie Perez (@rosieperezbklyn) January 7, 2022
#SidneyPoitier, your last sunset with us is the dawn of many generations rising in the path of light you blazed. We will always hold you in our hearts and forever speak your name. 🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼❤️❤️❤️ pic.twitter.com/hIKYCqM245
— Debbie Allen (@msdebbieallen) January 7, 2022
— Jane Lynch (@janemarielynch) January 7, 2022
— Robert Iger (@RobertIger) January 7, 2022
Sidney Poitier was full of grace in every aspect of his life .. He opened doors with a BOOM that came from his gentle soul RIP ..
— Henry Winkler (@hwinkler4real) January 7, 2022
#RIPSidneyPoitier One of cinema’s greatest leading men ever. Riveting to watch. Also an excellent director and from the couple of times I had the honor of meeting him, an extraordinarily intelligent and gracious man. Watch a Poitier movie or two this week. https://t.co/CDRGYIWRxH
— Ron Howard (@RealRonHoward) January 7, 2022
Immediately dispelling the perverted, obscene, and misinformed notion of white supremacy in every beautifully human, artistic and dignified way = Sidney Poitier. https://t.co/aU4ptHBKCx
— Mark Ruffalo (@MarkRuffalo) January 7, 2022
Sidney Poitier was a unique man. An award-winning actor, a mentor, and someone who moved through life with elegance and class. I was honored to know him and his wife Joanna and to watch him move through his life. https://t.co/LYG0WWYBsB
— Maria Shriver (@mariashriver) January 7, 2022