Sidney Poitier, Oscar-winning star of Lilies of the Field and In the Heat of the Night, passes away

Poitier, the first Black winner of the Academy Award for Best Actor, was 94

Sidney Poitier

Sidney Poitier, a groundbreaking actor who starred in several of the best movies of all time, has passed away at 94. His death has been confirmed by the Bahamian Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Acting in dozens of drama movies and thriller movies between 1950 and the early ’90s, Poitier attracted attention as one of the most prominent Black actors in Hollywood during the early stages of his career. From his big-screen debut in Joseph L Mankiewicz’s No Way Out onwards, Poitier challenged the racial divide in the US, gaining more and more attention for his incredible performances. In the late ’50s, he began to get awards attention for Edge of the City and The Defiant Ones, before becoming the first Black winner of the Academy Award for Best Actor in 1963, for his part in Ralph Nelson’s Lilies of the Field.

He continued working consistently right up to the 1992 comedy movie Sneakers, with Robert Redford, Dan Akyroyd, and River Phoenix. In that time, Poitier turned to directing as well, with the likes of Buck and the Preacher and Fast Forward, before going into soft retirement, doing documentaries and TV movies and such.

In the ’90s through to the 2000s, he was an ambassador for his home country of the Bahamas, helping diplomatic relations with Japan and UNESCO. His roots there are such that it’s only right the news of his passing comes from the country.

Poitier had a long career, opening doors and challenging cultural racial biases from Hollywood out. He worked with many greats and comes from a generation of filmmaking that was lucky to have him, as were we. He leaves us with many great features to check out, and a legacy that’ll live on for many years to come. He will be missed.