Legendary Hollywood actor Sidney Poitier passes away

Sidney Poitier, who broke racial barriers as the first black winner of the Best Actor Oscar for his role in Lily of the Field, and inspired a generation during the civil rights movement, has died at the age of 94 , an official of the Bahamian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Friday.

Eugne Torchon-Neuri, Acting Director-General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, confirmed Poitier’s death.

Sidney Poitier forged a distinctive film legacy with three 1967 films in the same year, at a time when segregation was rampant across much of the United States.

In Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, he played a black man with a white fiancé, and in the heat of the night, he was Virgil Tibbs, a black police officer who faces racism during a murder investigation. He played a teacher in a difficult London school that year in To Sir, With Love.

Poitier won the history-making Oscar for Best Actor in 1963 for Lily of the Field, in which he played a handyman who helps a German nun build a chapel in the desert. Five years ago Poitier was the first black person to be nominated for an Oscar for his role in the lead actor The Defiant Ones.

His Tibbs character from In the Heat of the Night was immortalized in two sequels – Give Call Me Mr. Tibbs! In 1970 and 1971 the organization became the basis for – and in the Heat of the Night – the television series starring Carol O’Connor and Howard Rollins.

Her other classic films from that era included “A Patch of Blue” in 1965, in which her character befriends a blind white girl, “The Blackboard Jungle” and “A Raisin in the Sun”, which Poitier played on Broadway. was also displayed.

Poitier was born on February 20, 1927, in Miami, and raised on a tomato farm in the Bahamas, and had only one year of formal schooling. He fought against poverty, illiteracy and prejudice to become one of the first black actors to be known and accepted in leading roles by mainstream audiences.

Poitier chose his roles carefully, burying the old Hollywood idea that black actors could only appear in derogatory contexts as showstoppers, train conductors, and maidservants.

“I love you, I respect you, I imitate you,” Denzel Washington, another Oscar winner, once told Poitier at a public ceremony.

As a director, Poitier worked with his friends Harry Belafonte and Bill Cosby on “Uptown Saturday Night” in 1974 and “Stir Crazy” in 1980 with Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder.

start on stage

Poitier grew up on Cat Island and the small Bahamian village of Nassau before moving to New York at age 16, lying about his age in order to sign up for a short stint in the military and then including a dishwasher. Were working odd jobs, taking acting lessons.

The young actor got his first break when he met the casting director of the American Negro Theatre. He was a bystander in “Days of Our Youth” and when the star, Belafonte, who also became a leading black actor, fell ill.

Poitier found success on Broadway in 1948 in “Anna Lucasta” and, two years later, received her first film role in “No Way Out” with Richard Widmark.

In total, he starred in over 50 films and directed nine, beginning with “Buck and the Preacher” in 1972, in which he co-starred with Belafonte.

In 1992, Poitier was given the Life Achievement Award by the American Film Institute, the most prestigious honor since the Oscars, with recipients such as Bette Davis, Alfred Hitchcock, Fred Astaire, James Cagney and Orson Welles.

“I must also thank an elderly Jewish waiter who took the time to help a young black dishwasher learn to read,” Poitier told the audience. “I can’t tell you his name. I never knew it. But now I read pretty well.”

In 2002, an honorary Oscar recognized “his remarkable achievements as an artist and a human being”.

Poitier married his second wife, actress Joanna Shimkus, in the mid-1970s. He had six daughters with two wives and wrote three books – “This Life” (1980), “The Measure of a Man: A Spiritual Autobiography” (2000) and “Life Beyond Major: Letters to My Great-Granddaughter”. (2008)

“If you apply logic and logic to this career of mine, you’re not going very far,” he told the Washington Post. “The journey has been incredible from the start. So much of life, it seems, is determined by pure randomness. ,

Poitier wrote three autobiographical books and published “Montaro Cane” in 2013, a novel that was described as part mystery, part science fiction.

Poitier was knighted by Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II in 1974 and served as the Bahamian Ambassador to Japan and UNESCO, the United Nations cultural agency. He also served on the board of directors of The Walt Disney Company from 1994 to 2003.

In 2009, Poitier was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest American civilian honor, by the president. Barack Obama,

The 2014 Academy Awards ceremony marked the 50th anniversary of Poitier’s historic Oscar, and he was there to present the award for Best Director.