Trailblazing Actor Sidney Poitier Dead at 94
He was the first Black man to win the Academy Award for Best Actor
Published Jan 07, 2022Trailblazing actor, director and activist Sidney Poitier has passed away at the age of 94. A cause of death has yet to be revealed.
Poitier's passing on January 6 was confirmed by Clint Watson, press secretary for the Prime Minister of the Bahamas, the country where Poitier grew up and later served as Bahamian Ambassador to Japan from 1997 to 2007.
Born unexpectedly in Miami in 1927 while his family was vacationing in the US, Poitier spent his formative years in the Bahamas but moved back to Miami at the age of 15, using his automatically granted US citizenship as entry. After a run-in with the Ku Klux Klan at age 16, Poitier left Miami and moved to New York, where he began his acting career.
Notably, Poitier was the first Black male and Bahamian actor to win an Academy Award for Best Actor for his role in Lilies of the Field in 1964. Prior to that role, Poitier acted in dozens of films, and went on to star in dozens more. His last acting role was in 1997's The Jackal, though he appeared in several documentaries later on, including his final project, Mr. Warmth: The Don Rickles Project, in 2008.
Among his acting credits, Poitier was noted for his roles in To Sir with Love, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner and In the Heat of the Night. Over the course of his career, Poitier was nominated for two Academy Awards and won one. He also received an honorary Oscar. He was nominated for two Grammy Awards and won one.
In 2009, former US president Barack Obama awarded Poitier with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Poitier is survived by his wife of 45 years, Joanna, and six daughters.