Sidney Poitier, Pioneering Oscar-Winning Actor and Director, Dies at 94

Sidney Poitier, the pioneering actor and director who grew to become the primary bankable Black main man in Hollywood, has died at age 94, based on the Bahamian Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Poitier, who was born within the U.S. however grew up within the Bahamas, broke a number of racial obstacles in his decades-long profession, together with when he grew to become the primary Black actor to win the Academy Award, for his position in 1963’s “Lilies of the Field.”

From his first movie efficiency, enjoying a health care provider who treats a bigoted white man in 1950’s “No Way Out,” he blazed a path by refusing to play roles that traded on racial stereotypes. He adopted his debut movie by enjoying a minister in 1951’s “Cry, the Beloved Country,” set in apartheid-era South Africa, after which an angsty excessive schooler in 1954’s “The Blackboard Jungle.”

Poitier picked up his first Oscar nomination for 1959’s “The Defiant Ones,” starring with Tony Curtis as two escaped criminals who should work collectively to elude the authorities. Four years later, he made historical past by taking home the Best Actor trophy for “Lilies of the Field,” starring as a former GI who helps a gaggle of Catholic nuns construct a brand new chapel.

More industrial roles adopted, culminating with a trifecta of economic and significant hits in 1967 — the classroom drama “To Sir, With Love,” the crime thriller “In the Heat of the Night” and the romantic drama “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” — that made Poitier the highest field workplace draw of the yr.

He additionally labored recurrently in theater, incomes a Tony Award nomination for the unique 1959 manufacturing of Lorraine Hansberry’s traditional drama “A Raisin in the Sun.”

Poitier made his directing debut with the 1972 Western “Buck and the Preacher,” during which he co-starred with Harry Belafonte and Ruby Dee. He scored his first hit as a director with the 1974 comedy “Uptown Saturday Night” with Belafonte and Bill Cosby, which he adopted with two extra Cosby autos, “Let’s Do It Again” (1975) and “A Piece of the Action” (1977).

But his largest field workplace success got here with 1980’s “Stir Crazy” starring Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder as a pair of misfits who’re mistakenly despatched to jail. The movie grossed greater than $100 million in its preliminary launch, a primary for a movie by a Black director.

He returned to appearing within the late 1980s and ’90s with roles in thrillers like “Little Nikita” (1988), “Sneakers” (1992) with Robert Redford and “The Jackal” (1997) with Bruce Willis and Richard Gere. He additionally appeared in TV motion pictures, enjoying Thurgood Marshall in “Separate but Equal” (1991), reprising his position as Mark Thackeray in “To Sir, With Love II” (1996) and portraying Nelson Mandela in “Mandela and de Klerk” (1997). He picked up Emmy nominations for each “Separate but Equal” and “Mandela and de Klerk.”

His last onscreen credit score got here within the 2001 TV film “The Last Brickmaker in America,” enjoying a widower who mentors a troubled teen.

The following yr, he accepted an Honorary Academy Award for his physique work.

In addition to his work in Hollywood, he served because the Bahamas’ ambassador to Japan from 1997 to 2007 (he held twin citizenship with the U.S.). In 2009, he additionally accepted the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom from Barack Obama.


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