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Sir Sidney Poitier death: First Black and oldest living man to win Best Actor Oscar dies aged 94

Sir Sidney Poitier death: First Black and oldest living man to win Best Actor Oscar dies aged 94

He pathed the way for many Black actors and was one of the biggest stars in Hollywood in the 1960’s, despite everything that was happening in America. There was no black actor before him that had his statute. It was incredible and groundbreaking for him to be moving in the same arc as stars such as Tony Curtis. He set the bar so high. His films shine a light on racism and prejudice in America.

Hollywood star Poitier was known for films which included Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, In the Heat of the Night and Lilies of the Field, for which he became the first Black and Bahamian man to win a Best Actor Oscar. The Bahamian-American star Poitier was granted US citizenship after being unexpectedly born in Miami on trip his parents made in February 1927.

Winning the Oscar in 1964

Bahamas was where he grew up but moved to America when at 15, getting his first lead film in 1955’s Blackboard Jungle just a year after arriving there. Awards recognition came not long after with The Defiant Ones (1958), he was nominated for Best Actor alongside co-star Tony Curtis. In 1964 he made history winning Best Actor Oscar for his performance in Lilies of the Field becoming the first black man to win. His impact on American culture transcended cinema. He was a huge voice for the Civil Rights movements and had organised marches.

Denzel Washington praised Poitier when he became the second Black man to win Best Actor in 2001 for Training Day, saying: “I’ll always be chasing you, Sidney. I’ll always be following in your footsteps. There’s nothing I would rather do, sir.”

In 2001 Poitier also received an Honorary Academy Award at the same ceremony for his contribution to American cinema. In 2012 when Ernest Borgnine died , Poitier became the oldest living Best Actor winner in history.

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Washington remained a strong fan of Poitier telling Variety he would have loved to have starred in a film with him, Poitier retired from acting in 2001.

In 1967, he starred in three films that addressed the issue of race relations: To Sir, with LoveGuess Who’s Coming to Dinner and In the Heat of the Night, which was directed by Norman Jewison.

He also made history as the director of Stir Crazy , which starred Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor passed the 100 million blockbuster mark. He was knighted in 1974.

Sidney Poitier 1927 to 2022 we are in his footsteps and as Obama said “he does not make movies he makes milestones”