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Home / News / Oscar-winning actor Sidney Poitier dies at 94

Oscar-winning actor Sidney Poitier dies at 94

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Sidney Poitier, who won an Academy Award for best actor for his role in “Lilies of the Field” in 1963, has died, according to a report from the Bahamian Minister of Foreign Affairs and various media outlets. He was 94.

Poitier was known as an activist who broke color barriers in the movie industry and entertainment. He was the first Black performer to win an Oscar for Best Actor.

The cause of death or where he died was not revealed.

Some of Poitier’s more notable roles were as Mark Thackeray in “To Sir With Love,” Detective Virgil Tibbs in “The Heat of the Night” in 1967, and in “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,” also released in 1967.

He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009 by President Barack Obama.

From 1997 to 2007, Poitier, who has dual citizenship in the United States and the Bahamas, served as the Bahamian ambassador to Japan.

“For me, the greatest of the `Great Trees’ has fallen: Sidney Poitier,” Oprah Winfrey said in a statement. “My honor to have loved him as a mentor. Friend. Brother. Confidant. Wisdom teacher. The utmost, highest regard and praise for his most magnificent, gracious, eloquent life. I treasured him. I adored him. He had an enormous soul I will forever cherish. Blessings to Joanna and his world of beautiful daughters.”

Oscar winner Marlee Matlin said, “So sad to read of the passing of Sidney Poitier. Thank you for gracing us with your brilliance.”

Ex-Walt Disney Co. CEO Robert Iger also hailed him, writing on Twitter, “Former Disney board member Sidney Poitier was the most dignified man I’ve ever met. Towering, gentle, passionate, bold, kind, altogether special.”

Whoopi Goldberg added, “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 RIP. He showed us how to reach for the stars.

Laker legend Magic Johnson also lamented the loss of his friend.

“Sidney was incredibly talented, professional and so distinguished,” Johnson wrote. “I still watch his movies today like `To Sir, With Love,’ `Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,’ `They Call Me Mr. Tibbs’ and one of my favorites, `In the Heat of the Night.’ A great friend, I learned a lot from watching Sidney and how he carried himself with such grace and class. May he rest in peace.”

Actor/director Ron Howard called Poitier “one of cinema’s greatest leading men ever.”

“Riveting to watch,” he wrote. “Also an excellent director and from the couple of times I had the honor of meeting him, an extraordinarily intelligent and gracious man. Watch a Poitier movie or two this week.”

Poitier is survived by his wife, Joanna, and six daughters.

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