Sidney Poitier Dead at 94

Sidney Poitier, the actor and activist who broke color barriers in Hollywood and starred in some of the most iconic movies ever made, has died.

The office of the Bahamian Minister of Foreign Affairs has confirmed Sidney’s death to media … however, the circumstances surrounding his passing are not yet known, nor do we know where he died.

Poitier was the first black man to win an Oscar for Best Actor for his starring role in “Lilies of the Field” in 1963.

Sidney’s roles are legendary … starring as Mark Thackeray in “To Sir With Love,” and Detective Virgil Tibbs in “In the Heat of the Night” in 1967. You know, he delivered the famous line, “They call me Mr. Tibbs.”

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He also starred in “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,” also released in 1967.

Just think about that … all 3 incredible movies were released the same year.

Poitier was a tireless civil rights activist … he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009 by President Obama for his work.

Poitier, who is a dual citizen of the U.S. and the Bahamas, served from 1997-2007 as Bahamian Ambassador to Japan.

Born Feb. 20, 1927, in Miami while his Bahamian parents were visiting, Poitier spent most of his childhood in the Bahamas. As a teen, he was sent to live with one of his brothers in Miami, and at age 16, moved on his own to New York City. After working a series of menial jobs and a brief stint in the Army, he finally landed a spot at the American Negro Theatre in Harlem.

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He made his film debut in 1950 in “No Way Out,” playing a doctor treating a white bigot. His breakthrough role came in 1955 playing a student in an inner-city school in “Blackboard Jungle.” He had earned his first Academy Award nomination for starring in the 1958 crime drama “The Defiant Ones” with Tony Curtis.

Other memorable roles included the musical “Porgy and Bess,” the film adaptation of “A Raisin in the Sun” and “A Patch of Blue.”Starting in the 1970s, Poitier directed a number of films, including “Uptown Saturday Night” and “Let’s Do It Again” with Bill Cosby. In 1980, he directed the hit comedy “Stir Crazy,” starring Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder.

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After retiring from acting in 1997, he served as the non-resident Bahamian ambassador to Japan until 2007.

In 2002, 38 years after receiving his best actor Oscar, Poitier was given an honorary Academy Award for his “remarkable accomplishments as an artist and as a human being.” In 2009, President Obama awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States’ highest civilian honor.

Poitier is survived by six daughters, four of whom he had with first wife Juanita Hardy. He is also survived by his current wife Joanna Shimkus, the mother of two of his daughters, including actress Sydney Tamiia Poitier.

He was a trailblazing icon and barrier-breaking visionary. Rest In Peace, Sidney Poitier.

Sidney was 94.