Photo credits: Everett Collection
According to the Bahamian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sidney Poitier, the iconic Black movie star, film director, and revolutionary civil rights leader has died.
As of Friday morning (January 7), the exact cause of Poitier’s death had not been officially verified. The legendary entertainer passed away at 94 years of age.
Poitier was a leading staple inside Tinseltown, as well as other lofty circles located around the globe. Starring in treasured cinematic works, such as A Raisin in the Sun, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, In the Heat of the Night, and To Sir With Love propelled Poitier into an elite club of thespians. However, the glitz, glamour, and camera flashes did not blind Poitier from doing the grueling trench work, which is what genuinely earned him most of the reverence he gained in life.
Sidney L. Poitier was born on February 20, 1927, in Miami, Florida.
He was the youngest of seven children born to Evelyn (née Outten) and Reginald James Poitier, Bahamian farmers with a Cat Island property. The family would fly to Miami to sell tomatoes and other fruits and vegetables. Reginald was also a cab driver in Nassau, Bahamas. Poitier was born unexpectedly in Miami during a visit by his parents.
Poitier was born two months early and was not expected to live. His parents, on the other hand, stayed in Miami for three months to nurse him back to health. Poitier was born in the Bahamas, which was a British Crown territory at the time. Because of his unanticipated birth in the United States, he was immediately granted citizenship.
Humble beginnings did not keep Poitier’s eyes off the prize or stop him from aiming high. His career started on stage in plays before the unmatched metamorphosis he made from the small to the big screen. In 1964, Poitier broke Hollywood’s color barrier by becoming the first black person to win an Oscar for performing in a lead role (Best Actor, Lillies of the Field).
Over the course of Poitier’s illustrious 50-plus-year career, which was comprised of star-studded showmanship and soul-stirring service, he won countless highly-coveted accolades — including the Presidential Medal of Freedom (awarded by President Barack Obama in 2009).
Poitier is survived by his wife Joanna Shimkus, six children from previous marriages, and numerous grandchildren.