Legendary actor Sidney Poitier, the primary Black man to ever win an Academy Award, has died at age 94.
His dying was first introduced by the Bahamas Minister of International Affairs Fred Mitchell on Friday morning. Poitier’s dying was confirmed to NBC Information by a supply near the household.
No reason behind dying has been revealed.
Poitier created a distinguished movie legacy in a single 12 months with three 1967 movies at a time when segregation prevailed in a lot of the USA.
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In Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner he performed a Black man with a white fiancee and Within the Warmth of the Night time he was Virgil Tibbs, a Black police officer confronting racism throughout a homicide investigation. He additionally performed a trainer in a troublesome London faculty that 12 months in To Sir, With Love.
Poitier received his history-making finest actor Oscar for Lilies of the Discipline in 1963, taking part in a handyman who helps German nuns construct a chapel within the desert. 5 years earlier than that, Poitier had been the primary Black man nominated for a lead actor Oscar for his position in The Defiant Ones.
His Tibbs character from Within the Warmth of the Night time was immortalized in two sequels —They Name Me Mister Tibbs! in 1970 and The Group in 1971 — and have become the premise of the tv sequence Within the Warmth of the Night time starring Carroll O’Connor and Howard Rollins.
His different traditional movies of that period included A Patch of Blue in 1965 wherein his character is befriended by a blind white lady, The Blackboard Jungle and A Raisin within the Solar, which Poitier additionally carried out on Broadway.
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Poitier was born in Miami on Feb. 20, 1927, and raised on a tomato farm within the Bahamas, and had only one 12 months of formal education. He struggled in opposition to poverty, illiteracy and prejudice to turn out to be one of many first Black actors to be identified and accepted in main roles by mainstream audiences.
Poitier picked his roles with care, burying the outdated Hollywood concept that Black actors may seem solely in demeaning contexts as shoeshine boys, practice conductors and maids.
“I really like you, I respect you, I imitate you,” Denzel Washington, one other Oscar winner, as soon as advised Poitier at a public ceremony.
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As a director, Poitier labored along with his pal Harry Belafonte and Invoice Cosby in Uptown Saturday Night time in 1974 and Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder in 1980’s Stir Loopy.
Poitier grew up within the small Bahamian village of Cat Island and in Nassau earlier than he moved to New York at 16, mendacity about his age to enroll in a brief stint within the Military after which working at odd jobs, together with dishwasher, whereas taking appearing classes.
The younger actor obtained his first break when he met the casting director of the American Negro Theater. He was an understudy in Days of Our Youth and took over when the star, Belafonte, who additionally would turn out to be a pioneering Black actor, fell in poor health.
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Poitier went on to success on Broadway in Anna Lucasta in 1948 and, two years later, obtained his first film position in No Method Out with Richard Widmark.
In all, he acted in additional than 50 movies and directed 9, beginning in 1972 with Buck and the Preacher, wherein he co-starred with Belafonte.
In 1992, Poitier was given the Life Achievement Award by the American Movie Institute, essentially the most prestigious honour after the Oscar, becoming a member of recipients resembling Bette Davis, Alfred Hitchcock, Fred Astaire, James Cagney and Orson Welles.
“I need to additionally pay due to an aged Jewish waiter who took time to assist a younger Black dishwasher be taught to learn,” Poitier advised the viewers. “I can not let you know his identify. I by no means knew it. However I learn fairly good now.”
In 2002, an honorary Oscar acknowledged “his exceptional accomplishments as an artist and as a human being.”
Poitier married actress Joanna Shimkus, his second spouse, within the mid-Nineteen Seventies. He had six daughters along with his two wives and wrote three books – This Life (1980), The Measure of a Man: A Religious Autobiography (2000) and Life Past Measure: Letters to My Nice-Granddaughter (2008).
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“In the event you apply cause and logic to this profession of mine, you’re not going to get very far,” he advised the Washington Submit. “The journey has been unimaginable from its starting. A lot of life, it appears to me, is decided by pure randomness.”
Poitier wrote three autobiographical books and in 2013 printed Montaro Caine, a novel that was described as half thriller, half science fiction.
Poitier was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1974 and served because the Bahamian ambassador to Japan and to UNESCO, the U.N. cultural company. He additionally sat on Walt Disney Co’s board of administrators from 1994 to 2003.
In 2009, Poitier was awarded the best U.S. civilian honour, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, by then-President Barack Obama.
The 2014 Academy Awards ceremony marked the fiftieth anniversary of Poitier’s historic Oscar and he was there to current the award for finest director.
Poitier is survived by Joanna, his spouse of 45 years, and 5 of his six daughters.
— With recordsdata from World Information’ Chris Jancelewicz