Sidney Poitier, a Hollywood actor who broke barriers, has passed away at the age of just 94. Poitier’s death was confirmed by Eugene Torchon-Newry, the acting director general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the Bahamas, where Poitier grew up.
There was no further information about his death.
Chester Cooper, Deputy Prime Minister, told ABC News that he was “conflicted with great sadness and a sense of celebration when I learned of the passing of Sir Sidney Poitier.
“Sadness that he would no longer be here to tell him how much he means to us, but celebration that he did so much to show the world that those from the humblest beginnings can change the world and that we gave him his flowers while he was with us,” Cooper told the news outlet.
Poitier was the first Black actor to win an Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance in “Lilies of the Field,”Popular for refusing to be cast in films that depicted racist stereotypes.
He was a frequent actor of intelligent Black men in the 1960s, when Black people were not often being depicted as such. He said that he felt a sense of responsibility to portray Black excellence in movies like “A Patch of Blue,” “To Sir, With Love,” “In the Heat of the Night” “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.”
“I felt very much as if I were representing 15, 18 million people with every move I made,”Poitier once spoke of the roles he played.
Poitier was one the highest-paid Hollywood actors of that time. However, he was subject to discrimination in the roles offered to him. He was not given any leading roles in a romantic relationship at that time.
“To think of the American Negro male in romantic social-sexual circumstances is difficult, you know… And the reasons why are legion and too many to go into.”
Poitier was born in Miami in February 1927 to Bahamian parents while they were visiting the state, but grew up in the Bahamas. When he was 15 years old, he returned to the U.S. and settled in New York City. He joined the North American Negro Theatre.
In 1950, he had his first movie role. “No Way Out.”He was eventually given the role of star in the film. “Blackboard Jungle.”In just a few short years, he was a Hollywood legend.
Poitier, who had retired from film in 1997, began serving as non-resident Bahamian ambassador for Japan until 2007.
Poitier was honored with an Oscar in 2002. In 2009, President Barack Obama presented Poitier the residential Medal of Freedom.
Six daughters and Joanna Shimkus, Poitier’s current wife, survive him.