Legendary Actor Sidney Poitier Dead at 94
Hollywood is mourning the loss of an icon.
Sidney Poitier, the first Black man to win an Academy Award for Best Actor, has died at the age at 94, according to a source close to the family, who confirmed his passing to NBC News. The news was first announced, per The Independent, by the Bahamian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Fred Mitchell, on Jan. 7. His cause of death has yet to be confirmed. E! News has reached out to reps for comment.
The iconic actor had a prolific career spanning over four decades—beginning in the 1950s—including starring roles in Porgy and Bess, A Raisin in the Sun, To Sir, With Love and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. In 1964, Poitier made history by becoming the first Black and Bahamian-born actor to win an Academy Award in the Best Actor category.
His highly-polished list of accolades included two more Academy Award nominations, ten Golden Globes nominations, two Primetime Emmy Awards nominations, six BAFTA nominations, eight Laurel nominations, and a Screen Actors Guild Awards nomination. In 2002, Poitier received an Honorary Academy Award for his overall contribution to American film.
Following the news, many stars shared touching tributes to social media in honor of the actor, including Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Kelly Rowland and Loni Love. Referring to the titular song from the movie To Sir, With Love, Whoopi Goldberg tweeted, “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.”
Tyler Perry also wrote a dedication on Instagram that read in part, “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.”
Octavia Spencer recalled her life-changing introduction to Poitier almost ten years to the date of his passing, writing in part on Instagram, “I must’ve been a pitiful sight because he stopped with the biggest smile and congratulated me. I finally blurted out I love you…. He told me he expected great things from me. There’s something about hearing those words from a pioneer that changes you! Thank you, Mr. Poitier!! I’ve been riding high ever since!!”
Before his passing, Poitier was one of the last surviving major stars from the Golden Age of Hollywood cinema, and the oldest living and earliest surviving male Academy Award winner.
He is survived by his wife of 45 years, Joanna Shimkus Poitier, six daughters, eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
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