Sidney Poitier was Hollywood’s first Black movie star. According to CNN, Poitier was the first Black man to win an Academy Award for Best Actor in a Lead Role and it’s difficult to understate Poitier’s legacy.
He won the Academy Award for his performance in “Lilies of the Field.” IMDb reported that Poitier’s career was difficult. He faced demeaning offers and eventually received roles that were “landmarks in helping to break down some social barriers between blacks and whites.”
CNN wrote, “Without Sir Sidney Poitier, there is no Billy Dee Williams, Denzel Washington, Morgan Freeman, Eddie Murphy, Forest Whitaker, Michael B. Jordan or, for that matter, that other Michael Jordan, whose ability to parlay his fearsome basketball skills into a cross-cultural, multi-media hyphenate was at least partly enabled by Poitier, who made it safe for Black culture heroes in all kinds of endeavors to connect with Whites as well as other Blacks.”
In 1974, Queen Elizabeth II knighted him “Sir Sidney Poitier.” Among Poitier’s achievements was also his advocacy. Known as a fierce advocate for civil rights, he helped organize the 1963 March on Washington, which featured the infamous “I Have a Dream” speech.
About him, Martin Luther King Jr. said, “He is a man of great depth, a man of great social concern, a man who is dedicated to human rights and freedom. Here is a man who, in the words we so often hear now, is a soul brother.” In 2009, former U.S. president Barack Obama awarded Poitier a presidential medal of freedom for his achievements and contributions.
When did Sidney Poitier pass away?
- Poitier passed away at 94. It’s unclear how he died.
- According to Deseret News, Poitier passed away on Jan. 6, 2022.
Through his groundbreaking roles and singular talent, Sidney Poitier epitomized dignity and grace, revealing the power of movies to bring us closer together. He also opened doors for a generation of actors. Michelle and I send our love to his family and legion of fans. pic.twitter.com/zkYKFSxfKA— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) January 7, 2022
Sidney Poitier career highlights
IMDb lists these facts about his careers.
- He was the first Black man to win an Academy Award for Best Actor in a Lead Role
- In 1980, he directed the film “Stir Crazy,” which was the highest grossing film by a Black filmmaker until the 2000 film “Scary Movie” directed by Keenen Ivory Wayans.
- He was ranked as #20 on a list of Greatest Movie Stars of all time by Stars in Our Constellation.
- On Feb. 1, 1994, he was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
- He has starred in four Oscar Best Picture nominated films: “The Defiant Ones,” “Lillies of the Field,” “In the Heat of the Night” and “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.”
- Poitier has five films listed on the American Film Institute’s 100 Most Inspiring Movies of All Time, making him the most represented actor.