Sidney Poitier, the actor and activist who helped to break down racial barriers in Hollywood and acted in some of the most memorable films of all time, has died.
Sidney’s death was confirmed by the Bahamian Minister of Foreign Affairs’ office to TMZ… However, neither the reasons for his death nor the location of his death are known.
For his main role in “Lilies of the Field” in 1963, Poitier became the first black man to receive an Academy Award for Best Actor.
The parts played by Sidney Poitier are renowned… In 1967, he played Mark Thackeray and Detective Virgil Tibbs in the films “To Sir With Love” and “In the Heat of the Night.” He offered the iconic statement, “They call me Mr. Tibbs,” as you may recall.
He also starred in the 1967 film “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.”
Consider it for a moment… All three films were released in the same year.
Poitier worked tirelessly for civil rights… In 2009, President Barack Obama honored him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his efforts.
Poitier, a dual citizen of the United States and the Bahamas, served as the Bahamas’ ambassador to Japan from 1997 to 2007.
Poitier is survived by his 45-year-old wife, Joanna, and his six daughters.
“Sidney Poitier epitomized dignity and grace,” Obama tweeted Friday, “revealing the power of movies to bring us closer together. He also opened doors for a generation of actors.”
Poitier told CBS News that his professional decisions were more concerned with the image of his characters than with becoming “first.” In 2013, he assured Lesley Stahl that he would never play someone who was unethical or cruel. “If you look back throughout my career, you’ll notice that I never did.”
“I did not go into the film business to be symbolized as someone else’s vision of me,” Poitier said. He said he would not take any part that reflects negatively on his parents and family.
“My father was a tomato farmer. There is the phrase that says he or she worked their fingers to the bone, well, that’s my dad. And he was a very good man.”
President Joe Biden was among those paying tribute to Poitier after news of his death. In a statement, he said:
“Sidney was more than just one of the finest actors in our history. His iconic performances in films like The Defiant Ones, A Raisin in the Sun, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, and In the Heat of the Night held a mirror up to America’s racial attitudes in the 1950s and 1960s. With unflinching grandeur and poise — his singular warmth, depth, and stature on-screen — Sidney helped open the hearts of millions and changed the way America saw itself.”