Sir Sidney Poitier, Oscar-winning movie star, civil rights activist, and trailblazer of Black Hollywood, has passed away at 94. Eyewitness News of Bahams broke the news, which was confirmed by The office of the Bahamian Minister of Foreign Affairs as Poitier was a dual citizen of the U.S. and the Bahamas. Circumstances surrounding his death are unknown at press time. The biggest names in the culture are in mourning today following the news of the death of the iconic thespian.
“Sir #SidneyPoitier, your brilliant light will never dim,” Lenny Kravitz tweeted with a collage of photos of him, Poitier and award-winning actor Denzel Washington. “The doors you opened and paths you created will continue to make way for those with a dream. You showed the world that with vision and grace, all is possible.”
He continued: “Your excellence will always be the benchmark. Rest in divine peace, Bahamian King. My love and condolences go out to your beautiful family.”
Director, Actor, Screenwriter Tyler Perry wrote a touching tribute to Poitier minutes after the news of his passing on Facebook that honored the actor’s work on film and life, like the late-Cicely Tyson, who also passed away around the same time in 2020.
“Around this time last year Cicely Tyson was releasing her book and promoting it. I had no idea she would pass away shortly thereafter. Now, to wake up this morning to a call that Sidney Poitier has passed away… all I can tell you is that my heart broke in another place. The grace and class that this man has shown throughout his entire life, the example he set for me, not only as a black man but as a human being will never be forgotten. There is no man in this business who has been more of a North Star for me than Sidney Poitier. I’ll never forget inviting him and Cicely to fly to South Africa with me. Selfishly, I wanted to hold them both captive for the hours long trip as I literally sat at their feet and listened to their wisdom and experiences. It was life changing. All I can say is thank you for your life, thank you for your example, and thank you for your incredible gift. But most of all, thank you for being willing to share YOU to make us all better.”
Born February 20, 1972, in Miami, Florida. In film, Sir Poitier was best known for his iconic roles in legendary films Uptown Saturday Night In the Heat of the Night, and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. He won an Oscar award for ‘Best Actor’ for his starring role in the film Lilies of the Field (1963) at the 36th Academy Awards in 1964. Presented by Anna Bancoft, watch Poitier’s acceptance speech above.
Poitier served as the Bahamian Ambassador to Japan from 1997 to 2007. For his endless civil rights work, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama in 2009. “Through his groundbreaking roles and singular talent, Sidney Poitier epitomized dignity and grace, revealing the power of movies to bring us closer together,” Obama tweets on Friday afternoon. “He also opened doors for a generation of actors. Michelle and I send our love to his family and legion of fans.”
Praised by the biggest names in black cinema for generations. Poitier, the first Black actor to win an Oscar, epitomized the essence of Black Hollywood. From today’s biggest directors to screenwriters to actors, all credit Sir Poitier for their acting DNA. “You were an incredibly beautiful, kind soul who changed the lives of so many, and a hero to all. The world was a much better place because you were in it, and we will miss you. RIP dear,” writes legendary actor Billy Dee Williams.
See other tributes from around pop culture below.
Sir Sidney Poitier is survived by his wife, Joanne, 45, and six daughters.
The Source would like to extend our condolences to the friends, family, and fans of Sir Sidney Poitier. Rest in Peace.