Sidney Poitier: First black man to win Oscar dies aged 94
Official sources have confirmed that Sir Sidney Poitier, who became the first black man to win the Academy Award’s Best Actor, has died at the age of 94.
The Hollywood star from the Bahamas was known for films including Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, In the Heat of the Night and Lilies of the Field, for which he became the first Black man to win a Best Actor Oscar.
The news was announced by Minister of Foreign Affairs Fred Mitchell, prompting worldwide tributes for the actor.
Poitier was automatically granted US citizenship after being born in Miami while his parents were visiting in February 1927.
He grew up in the Bahamas but moved to America when he was 15. One year later, he starred in his first lead film role in 1955’s Blackboard Jungle.
Poitier was awarded a Fellowship by Bafta in 2016 in recognition of his outstanding contribution to cinema.
Paying tribute to the famous actor, Barack Obama said: “Through his groundbreaking roles and singular talent, Sidney Poitier epitomised dignity and grace, revealing the power of movies to bring us closer together. He also opened doors for a generation of actors. Michelle and I send our love to his family and legion of fans.”
The Prime Minister of the Bahamas also paid tribute to Sir Sidney Poitier.
He said the Bahamian flag will fly at half mast their country and around the world.
Speaking on a live Facebook stream, the Honourable Philip Davis said: “Our whole Bahamas grieves. But even as we mourn, we celebrate the life of a great Bahamian.
“A cultural icon, an actor and film director, civil and human rights activist and a diplomat.
“We admire the man not just because of his colossal achievements, but also because of who he was.
“His strength of character, his willingness to stand up and be counted and the way he plotted and navigated his life’s journey. The boy who moved from the tomato farm to become a waiter in the United States, a young man who not only taught himself to read and write, but who made the expression of words and thoughts and feelings central to his career.”
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