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Sir Sidney Poitier, actor and activist, dies aged 94

The Bahamian-American actor was the first Black man to win a Best Actor Oscar.

Sidney Poitier
Published: Friday, 7th January 2022 at 3:03 pm

Sir Sidney Poitier has died that the age of 94, the Minister of Foreign Affairs Fred Mitchell has confirmed (via The Mirror).

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The actor, activist, director and ambassador became the first Black man to be awarded Best Actor at the Academy Awards in 1964 for Lilies of the Field.

Over the course of his illustrious film career, Poitier was nominated for a further two Oscars, 10 Golden Globes and six BAFTAs, as well as receiving eight Laurel nominations.

He is remembered for his roles in Guess Who's Coming to Dinner and In the Heat of the Night.

As soon as the sad news was announced, tributes to the actor flooded Twitter.

No Time To Die actor Jeffrey Wright paid tribute, writing: "What a landmark actor. One of a kind. What a beautiful, gracious, warm, genuinely regal man. RIP, Sir. With love."

Representative LaKeshia Myers tweeted: "To Sir Sidney Poitier, with Love. What we have lost, the ancestors have gained. Thank you for all you did for us."

Former United States Ambassador to South Africa Patrick Gaspard called Poitier a "beautiful man", saying: "It's next to near impossible to have to describe the importance of Sidney Poitier to millions. It's like trying to explain the concept of gravity.

"He was our ground and had a seismic impact on black representation. We knew and loved him like a family member."

Joseph Gordon-Levitt also paid tribute on social media, writing: "Sidney Poitier. An absolute legend. One of the greats."

Poitier grew up in the Bahamas but moved to Florida as a teenager.

It was in the US that he joined a theatre, landing his first film role as a high school student in 1955's Blackboard Jungle.

He later starred alongside Tony Curtis in The Defiant Ones, a role which earned him an Oscar nomination.

Upon becoming the second Black man to win the Best Actor award at the Oscars in 2001, Denzel Washington paid tribute to Hollywood icon and trailblazer Poitier.

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"I’ll always be chasing you, Sidney. I’ll always be following in your footsteps. There’s nothing I would rather do, sir," he said.

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