In a statement sent to The Hollywood Reporter, his relatives described their grief following the Oscar winner’s passing. “There are no words to convey the deep sense of loss and sadness we are feeling right now,” the statement read. “We are so grateful he was able to spend his last day surrounded by his family and friends.”
The message praised the actor, whose accomplished career included such memorable films as Lilies of the Field, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner and In the Heat of the Night, as “a man who always put family first. He is our guiding light who lit up our lives with infinite love and wonder. His smile was healing, his hugs the warmest refuge, and his laughter was infectious.”
Many Hollywood notables have also offered heartfelt condolences and remembrances. Denzel Washington, Oprah Winfrey, Harry Belafonte, Ted Sarandos, Viola Davis and Tyler Perry are among those who have paid tribute to Poitier.
In the Heat of the Night director Norman Jewison told THR that he is “heartbroken” following Poitier’s death. Jewison, who enjoyed a friendship with the star for more than 50 years, recalled, “He was probably one of the most intelligent actors I ever worked with.”
Read the family’s full statement below.
There are no words to convey the deep sense of loss and sadness we are feeling right now. We are so grateful he was able to spend his last day surrounded by his family and friends. To us Sidney Poitier was not only a brilliant actor, activist, and a man of incredible grace and moral fortitude, he was also a devoted and loving husband, a supportive and adoring father, and a man who always put family first. He is our guiding light who lit up our lives with infinite love and wonder. His smile was healing, his hugs the warmest refuge, and his laughter was infectious. We could always turn to him for wisdom and solace and his absence feels like a giant hole in our family and our hearts. Although he is no longer here with us in this realm, his beautiful soul will continue to guide and inspire us. He will live on in us, his grandchildren and great-grandchildren — in every belly laugh, every curious inquiry, every act of compassion and kindness. His legacy will live on in the world, continuing to inspire not only with his incredible body of work, but even more so with his humanity.
We would like to extend our deepest appreciation to every single one of you for the outpouring of love from around the world. So many have been touched by our dad’s extraordinary life, his unwavering sense of decency and respect for his fellow man. His faith in humanity never faltered, so know that for all the love you’ve shown him, he loved you back.