Celebrities around the world are paying tribute to beloved Oscar-winning actor Sidney Poitier after his death. He was 94 years old.
The movie icon’s death was confirmed to Fox News Digital on Friday by the Bahamian Foreign Office’s office. The Prime Minister of the Bahamas, Philip Davis, also held a press conference on Friday morning in which he referred to Poitier as “an actor and director, an entrepreneur, a civil and human rights activist and, more recently, a Diplomat”.
In a statement to Fox News Digital, Denzel Washington said, “It has been a privilege to call Sidney Poitier my friend. He was a gentle man and opened doors for all of us that had been closed for years. God bless him. and his family. “
Danny Glover and Henry Belafonte both paid tribute to the actor.
“All of us who woke up in Sidney Poitier’s shadow owe him so much,” Glover said in a statement to Fox News Digital.
“For over 80 years Sidney and I laughed and cried and did as much silly thing as possible. He was truly my brother and partner in trying to make this world a little better. He certainly made mine a lot better,” he said. said Belafonte. Fox News digital.
The stars also began paying tribute to Poitier on social media early Friday after the news broke.
Whoopi Goldberg took to Twitter, writing: “If you wanted the sky, I would write across the sky in letters that would rise a thousand feet high. To sir… with love Sir Sidney Poitier RIP He showed us how to reach for the stars.”
SIDNEY POITIER, OSCAR ACTOR, DEAD AT 94
Actor Jeffrey Wright noted: “Sidney Poitier. What a historic actor. One of a kind. What a magnificent man, gracious, warm and truly royal. RIP, Sir. With love.”
George Takei recalled Poitier’s long career in cinema, calling him a “pioneer”.
“Sidney Poitier, the first black man to win an Oscar, has died at the age of 94. The star of” Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner “and” Lilies of the Field “, for which he won the award for best actor , will be mourned by so many to whom he opened the very doors of Hollywood “, Takei tweeted.
Piers Morgan noted Poitier became the first black man to win the Oscar for best actor.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt called Poitier an “absolute legend. One of the greatest.”
“Real Housewives” star Garcelle Beauvais shared a selfie she has with Poitier. “Rest in power, Mr. Poitier! Your legacy will live on! Thank you for sharing your talent with us,” she wrote on Twitter.
Actress Viola Davis called Poitier’s death “serious”.
“No words can describe how your work has radically changed my life. The dignity, normalcy, strength, excellence and sheer electricity that you brought to your roles have shown us that we, as black people, counting !!! It was an honor … “a tweet from his account bed.
Taraji P. Henson thanked Poitier for “going through the doors”. “Thank you, you will never be enough for your blood sweat, your tears and your determination. REST IN HEAVENLY PEACE !!! We will tell generations to come your legacy !!!” she said in a tribute Instagram.
Octavia Spencer has said she will never forget meeting Poitier.
“I had just won an award and he and Helen Mirren were walking through the kitchen to the stage to present. When I have an adrenaline overload, it has a negative effect. I can’t bend my knees. So, I’m there with my heels and a prize in my hands, shell shocked and sweaty, LOOKING at them both. I was looking for the only word to say but I couldn’t remember, “she recalls on Instagram.
Spencer’s post continues, “I must have been pathetic to see because he stopped with the biggest smile and congratulated me. I finally blurted out I love you… both. said he expected great things from me. There is something to hearing these words from a pioneer that changes you! Thank you, Mr. Poitier !! I have been climbing high since !! “
Henri winkler wrote: “Sidney Poitier was full of grace in all aspects of his life .. He opened the doors with a BOOM that came from his sweet soul RIP ..”
Loni love remembered its time to meet Poitier, calling it a “thrill” to be in its presence. “What a pleasure it was to meet the legendary actor Sidney Poitier .. he made us all proud and was an inspiration to us in an industry that at times could not be welcoming .. thank you Mr Poitier have a good rest.”
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In 1963, Poitier shot a film in Arizona, “Les lys des champs”. The performance led to a milestone: he became the first black man to win a leading actor Oscar. As one of the most beloved stars of Hollywood’s Golden Age, Poitier made her mark with films like “A Raisin in the Sun” (1961), “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” (1967 ) and “Uptown Saturday Night” (1974), among others.
In January of this year, Arizona State University named its new film school in his honor. The Sidney Poitier New American Film School was unveiled in a virtual ceremony.
Poitier was born in 1927 in Miami, Florida, PBS shared. The star grew up in the tiny village of Cat Island, Bahamas. His father, a tomato farmer, moved his family to the capital when Poitier was 11 years old. Very young, Poitier was fascinated by cinema and, at 16, he moved to New York. He found work as a diver and soon after became a janitor for the American Negro Theater in exchange for acting lessons.
This is where Poitier was entrusted with the role of Harry Belafonte’s understudy in “Days of our Youth”. Poitier made his public debut by filling a night out. Subsequently, he got a small role in the Greek comedy “Lysistrata”. Poitier continued to act in plays until 1950 when he made his film debut in “No Way Out”.
Before Poitier, few black actors were allowed to break the stereotypes of insect-eyed servants and smiling entertainers. Before Poitier, Hollywood filmmakers rarely tried to tell the story of a black person.
The rise of Poitier reflected the profound changes in the country in the 1950s and 1960s. As racial attitudes shifted in the civil rights era and segregation laws were contested and fell, Poitier was the artist towards which a cautious industry turned to for stories of progress.
He was the escaped black convict who befriends a racist white prisoner (Tony Curtis) in “The Defiant Ones”. He was the courteous office worker who falls in love with a blind white girl in “A Patch of Blue”. He was the handyman in “Lilies of the Field” building a church for a group of nuns. In one of the great roles on stage and screen, he was the ambitious young father whose dreams clashed with those of other family members in Lorraine Hansberry’s “A Raisin in the Sun”.
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Poitier culminated in 1967 with three of the most notable films of the year: “To Sir, With Love”, in which he played the role of a school teacher who wins his unruly pupils in a London secondary school. ; “In the heat of the night,” as determined police detective Virgil Tibbs; and in “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,” as a prominent doctor who wishes to marry a young white woman he only recently met, his parents played as Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn in their last film together.
In recent years, a new generation has known him thanks to Oprah Winfrey, who chose “The Measure of a Man” for her book club. Meanwhile, he praised the rise of black stars such as Denzel Washington, Will Smith and Danny Glover: “It’s like the cavalry is coming to relieve the troops! You have no idea how happy I am. “, did he declare.
Poitier has received numerous honorary awards, including a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Film Institute and a Special Oscar in 2002, the same night the black performers won both awards for Best Acting, Washington for “Training Day” and Halle Berry for “Monster’s Ball”. “
Poitier had four daughters with his first wife, Juanita Hardy, and two with his second wife, actress Joanna Shimkus, who starred with him in his 1969 film “The Lost Man”. Her daughter Sydney Tamaii Poitier has appeared in television series such as “Veronica Mars” and “Mr. Knight”.
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The only black actor before Poitier to win a competitive Oscar was Hattie McDaniel, the 1939 best supporting actress for “Gone with the Wind”. No one, including Poitier, considered “Les lys des champs” to be their best film, but times were good (Congress would soon pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which Poitier lobbied for) and the actor was favored even against competitors such as Paul Newman for “Hud” and Albert Finney for “Tom Jones”. Newman was one of those rooting Poitier.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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