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Sidney Poitier news: Barack Obama and Halle Berry lead tributes after Oscar-winning actor dies 94

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Tributes have begun pouring in for Sidney Poitier who has died aged 94.

The Bahamian-American actor – best known for his films Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner and In the Heat of the Night – was the first Black man to win an Oscar for Best Actor.

Poitier took home the prize for his role as Homer Smith in the 1963 drama Lilies of the Field.

Following the news of his death, which was announced by the Bahamian Minister of Foreign Affairs Fred Mitchell, fans and fellow stars have begun remembering Poitier on social media.

The Independent’s Geoffrey Macnab paid tribute to Poitier, a singular actor whose profound influence and legacy will be everlasting.

Key Points

  • Sidney Poitier death: First Black man to win Best Actor Oscar dies aged 94

  • Westworld star Jeffrey Wright remembers Poitier as ‘a beautiful, gracious, warm, genuinely regal man'

  • Whoopi Goldberg says Poitier ‘showed us how to reach for the stars'

  • Barack Obama shares photograph of himself and Michelle Obama together with Poitier in 2009

  • Sidney Poitier tribute: The charming trailblazer who continually challenged stereotypes

Sidney Poitier death: First Black man to win Best Actor Oscar dies aged 94

Friday 7 January 2022 15:21 , Annabel Nugent

Sidney Poitier has died aged 94, the Minister of Foreign Affairs Fred Mitchell has announced.

The Hollywood star 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.

Legendary actor Sidney Poitier, first Black man to win Best Actor Oscar, dies aged 94

Westworld star Jeffrey Wright remembers ‘landmark actor’ as ‘one of a kind’

Friday 7 January 2022 15:28 , Annabel Nugent

Emmy-winning actor Jeffrey Wright has paid tribute to Poitier in a touching Twitter post.

“Sidney Poitier. What a landmark actor. One of a kind. What a beautiful, gracious, warm, genuine regal man,” wrote Wright. “RIP, Sir. With love.”

Wright is best known for his role as Belize in the Broadway production of Tony Kushner’s Angels in America and its acclaimed 2003 HBO adaptation. The American actor was last seen in No Time To Die, starring opposite Daniel Craig’s James Bond.

Friday 7 January 2022 15:32 , Annabel Nugent

An official Twitter account for the late musician Louis Armstrong has remembered Poitier as a “legendary actor”.

In a tribute post, the account – which is run by the Louis Armstrong House Museum – shared a photo of Poitier alongside Armstrong and Paul Newman in the 1961 film Paris Blues.

The film starred Poitier as jazz saxophonist Eddie Cook and Newman as trombonist Ram Bowen.

Friday 7 January 2022 15:32 , Annabel Nugent

An official Twitter account for the late musician Louis Armstrong has remembered Poitier as a “legendary actor”.

In a tribute post, the account – which is run by the Louis Armstrong House Museum – shared a photo of Poitier alongside Armstrong and Paul Newman in the 1961 film Paris Blues.

The film starred Poitier as jazz saxophonist Eddie Cook and Newman as trombonist Ram Bowen.

Friday 7 January 2022 15:36 , Annabel Nugent

Piers Morgan has paid tribute to Poitier in a Twitter post.

The former Good Morning Britain host wrote: “When he answered an ad for actors, as an illiterate young man, the theatre owner sneered: ‘Go be a dishwasher.’

“Sidney already was a dishwasher. Stung by the jibe, he vowed to prove him wrong. He became the first black man to win the Best Actor Oscar.”

Friday 7 January 2022 15:42 , Annabel Nugent

Denzel Washington became the second Black man to win the Best Actor Oscar for his 2001 film Training Day.

During his acceptance speech, Washington praised Poitier.

“I’ll always be chasing you, Sidney. I’ll always be following in your footsteps. There’s nothing I would rather do, sir,” he said.

At the same ceremony, Poitier received an Honorary Academy Award for his contribution to American cinema. As of 2012, following the death of Ernest Borgnine, Poitier became the oldest living Best Actor winner in history.

George Takei says Poitier will be ‘mourned by so many for whom he opened the very doors of Hollywood'

Friday 7 January 2022 15:48 , Annabel Nugent

Star Trek actor George Takei has paid tribute to “trailblazer” Sidney Poitier.

Takei wrote on Twitter: “Sidney Poitier, the first Black man to win an Oscar, has died at the age of 94.

“The star of ‘Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner’ and ‘Lilies of the Field,’ for which he won Best Actor, was a trailblazer who will be mourned by so many for whom he opened the very doors of Hollywood.”

Colman Domingo thanks Poitier for ‘blazing a tremendous path for thespians such as me'

Friday 7 January 2022 15:56 , Annabel Nugent

Euphoria star Colman Domingo has paid tribute to Poitier in an emotional Twitter post.

“Until I can properly eulogise him later. Heart broken. I am because of him,” wrote Domingo.

“He blazed a tremendous path for thespians such as me. I am forever grateful. Standing O for this giant.”

Domingo is best known for his roles in HBO’s hit series Euphoria, as well as Fear the Walking Dead. He recently starred in Nia DaCosta’s reboot of the 1992 horror film Candyman and the A24 film Zola.

Former CEO of Disney Bob Iger calls Poitier ‘the most dignified man I’ve ever met’

Friday 7 January 2022 16:06 , Annabel Nugent

Ex-Walt Disney executive chairman Robert “Bob” Iger has paid tribute to Poitier, a former Disney board member.

“Former @disney board member Sidney Poitier was the most dignified man I’ve ever met,” wrote Iger, who left his position as CEO in 2020.

“Towering…gentle…passionate…bold…kind…altogether special.”

Netflix star Aimee Carrero calls Poitier ‘a light like no other'

Friday 7 January 2022 16:11 , Annabel Nugent

Netflix and Disney star Aimee Carrero has remembered Poitier as a “once in a generation talent”.

Carrero – who recently starred opposite Margaret Qualley in Netflix’s acclaimed drama series Maid – paid tribute to the actor in a Twitter post.

“A once in a generation talent, a light like no other. He changed everything. Thank you, Sir Sidney Poitier,” wrote Carrero.

Friday 7 January 2022 16:18 , Annabel Nugent

Comedian and TV host Loni Love has remembered meeting Poitier in the wake of his death.

Love wrote in a Twitter post: “What a thrill it was to meet the legendary actor Sidney Poitier. . he made us all feel proud and was an inspiration to us in an industry that at times could not be welcoming.. thank you Mr. Poitier rest well.”

Friday 7 January 2022 16:19 , Annabel Nugent

Comedian Sarah Cooper has remembered Poitier in a Twitter post.

Cooper – who achieved fame with her viral impressions of former US president Donald Trump – wrote on Twitter: “A brilliant actor, director and activist RIP Sidney Poitier.”

Whoopi Goldberg says Poitier ‘showed us how to reach for the stars'

Friday 7 January 2022 16:21 , Annabel Nugent

Whoopi Goldberg has paid tribute to Sidney Poitier in a touching Twitter post.

“If you wanted the sky i would write across the sky in letters that would soar a thousand feet high,” wrote the Sister Act star.

“To Sir... with Love. Sir Sidney Poitier R.I.P. He showed us how to reach for the stars.”

She added: “My condolences to his family and to all of us as well.”

Tyler Perry has said his ‘heart broke’ after hearing news of Sidney Poitier’s death

Friday 7 January 2022 16:32 , Annabel Nugent

Tyler Perry has remembered Poitier in a lengthy Facebook post paying tribute to the late actor.

“The grace and class that this man has shown throughout his entire life, the example he set for me, not only as a black man but as a human being will never be forgotten,” wrote the actor.

He continued: “There is no man in this business who has been more of a North Star for me than Sidney Poitier. I’ll never forget inviting him and Cicely [Tyson] to fly to South Africa with me. Selfishly, I wanted to hold them both captive for the hours long trip as I literally sat at their feet and listened to their wisdom and experiences. It was life changing.”

Cecily Tyson – the Emmy and Tony award-winning actor – also died in January last year.

Friday 7 January 2022 16:36 , Annabel Nugent

Following news of Poitier’s death, fans are remembering the incredible story of how the late acting icon learnt to read.

In the 2004 biography of the star, Sidney Poitier: Man, Actor, Icon, author Aram Goudsouzian tells the extraordinary story of how Poitier learnt to read for his first ever foray into acting.

The extraordinary story of how Sidney Poitier learnt to read

Vampire Diaries star Paul Wesley remembers reading Poitier’s 2000 autobiography

Friday 7 January 2022 16:40 , Annabel Nugent

Vampire Diaries star Paul Wesley has paid tribute to Sidney Poitier in a Twitter post shared with his 4.2 million followers.

“RIP Sidney Poitier. I read his autobiography years ago and it was quite the inspiration,” wrote the actor.

The Measure of a Man: A Spiritual Autobiography by Poitier was published in 2000.

Mia Farrow calls Poitier the ‘best of the best’

Friday 7 January 2022 16:43 , Annabel Nugent

Rosemary’s Baby star Mia Farrow paid tribute to Poitier on Twitter.

“Sidney Poitier – best of the best RIP,” wrote the actor.

Farrow accompanied her Twitter post with two images of Poitier, one in which he is being presented with the Medal of Freedom by Barack Obama in 2009.

Friday 7 January 2022 16:49 , Annabel Nugent

Fans are rewatching Sidney Poitier’s emotional and historic 1964 Academy Award win following the actor’s death.

In 1964, Poitier made history when he won the Academy Award for Best Actor for Lilies of the Field, making him the first Black and Bahamian man to win the prize.

Remembering Sidney Poitier’s historic Academy Award speech following actor’s death

Other actors nominated in the category included Albert Finney for Tom Jones, Richard Harris for This Sporting Life, Rex Harrison for Cleopatra and Paul Newman for Hud.

At the ceremony, Poitier was greeted with rousing applause and cheers from the audience, with the actor clearly elated by the win.

Earvin “Magic” Johnson pays tribute to Poitier as a “true gentleman” and “legend"

Friday 7 January 2022 16:55 , Annabel Nugent

“RIP to a true gentleman, legend, and the first African-American Academy Award winner for Best Actor Sidney Poitier,” wrote the former LA Lakers player.

Magic Johnson also shared two photographs of himself together with Poitier.

Bollywood star Anil Kapoor pays tribute to his ‘childhood idol’ Sidney Poitier

Friday 7 January 2022 17:02 , Annabel Nugent

Bollywood star Anil Kapoor has remembered the late actor in a touching Twitter post.

“Sidney Poitier, my childhood idol, lifelong inspiration & star of some of my favourite films... Forever your fan & admirer... Rest in Peace,” wrote Kapoor.

The Slumdog Millionaire star accompanied the post with a photograph of himself together with Poitier.

Viola Davis says ‘no words can describe how your work radically shifted my life'

Friday 7 January 2022 17:13 , Annabel Nugent

Academy Award-winner Viola Davis has shared a lengthy tribute to Poitier on Instagram.

“This is a big one. No words can describe how your work radically shifted my life. The dignity, normalcy, strength, excellence and sheer electricity you brought to your roles showed us that we, as Black folks, mattered!!!” she wrote.

The How to Get Away with Murder star continued: “It was an honor [sic] for my husband and I to share lunch with you at Spagos. You told us, ‘If your dreams do not scare you, they’re not big enough’!

“I put this quote on my daughter’s wall. Rest well Mr. Poitier. Thank you! Thank you for leaving a legacy. May flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.”

Marvel’s Mark Ruffalo pays tribute to Poitier on Twitter

Friday 7 January 2022 17:21 , Annabel Nugent

Marvel star Mark Ruffalo has shared a tribute post to Poitier on Twitter.

“Immediately dispelling the perverted, obscene, and misinformed notion of white supremacy in every beautifully human, artistic and dignified way = Sidney Poitier,” wrote Ruffalo.

The Hulk actor wrote his caption alongside a Twitter post by Martin Luther King Jr’s daughter Bernice King, in which she remembers Poitier as “powerful beyond the stage and screen”.

Elijah Wood says ‘so long’ to Sidney Poitier

Friday 7 January 2022 17:41 , Annabel Nugent

Elijah Wood has said “so long” to the late actor on Twitter.

The Lord of the Rings star wrote: “So long to the groundbreaking titan, Sidney Poitier.”

He accompanied the post with a black and white photograph of Poitier.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt remembers Sidney Poitier as ‘an absolute legend'

Friday 7 January 2022 18:04 , Annabel Nugent

Joseph Gordon-Levitt has paid tribute to the late acting icon.

In a Twitter post, the Don Jon star wrote: “Sidney Poitier. An absolute legend. One of the greats.”

Barack Obama fondly remembers Sidney Poitier who 'epitomised dignity and grace’

Friday 7 January 2022 18:24 , Annabel Nugent

Former US president Barack Obama has remembered Poitier for his “groundbreaking roles and singular talent”.

Obama paid tribute to the late actor in a Twitter post.

“Through his groundbreaking roles and singular talent, Sidney Poitier epitomized [sic] dignity and grace, revealing the power of movies to bring us closer together,” he wrote.

The 60-year-old continued: “He also opened doors for a generation of actors. Michelle and I send our love to his family and legion of fans.”

He shared the post on Twitter alongside a photograph of himself and former first lady Michelle Obama together with Poitier.

On 12 August in 2009, Obama presented Poitier with the Medal of Freedom at the White House in Washington.

Oprah Winfrey says ‘the greatest of the ‘Great Trees’ has fallen'

Friday 7 January 2022 18:50 , Annabel Nugent

“For me, the greatest of the ‘Great Trees’ has fallen: Sidney Poitier,” wrote the talk show host.

“My honor [sic] to have loved him as a mentor. Friend. Brother. Confidant. Wisdom teacher.”

She continued: “The utmost, highest regard and praise for his most magnificent, gracious, eloquent life. I treasured him. I adored him. He had an enormous soul I will forever cherish. Blessings to Joanna and his world of beautiful daughters.”

Winfrey accompanied the post with a photograph of her and Poitier hugging.

Poitier is survived by his wife Joanna Shimkus, with whom he shares two daughters, Anika and Sydney.

The late actor also has four daughters – Beverly, Pamela, Sherri and Gina – with his former wife Juanita Hardy.

Reese Witherspoon says she was ‘lucky enough to spend some time with Sidney Poitier'

Friday 7 January 2022 19:20 , Annabel Nugent

Reese Witherspoon has shared a tribute to the late Oscar winner on Twitter.

“Today we lost a legend. I was lucky enough to spend some time with Sidney Poitier,” wrote the Big Little Lies star.

“As a long time fan, I cherished hearing his incredible stories of how he changed perceptions in Hollywood. His incredible performances are filled with dignity, strength, truth and deep humanity.”

Witherspoon accompanied her post with a photograph of Poitier and herself.

British actor David Harewood remembers Sidney Poitier’s ‘defiance, grace and style'

Friday 7 January 2022 20:11 , Annabel Nugent

Homeland star David Harewood has paid tribute to Poitier on Twitter.

“Gotta get my s*** together. Gotta walk onstage tonight and remember who started this crazy fever dream,” wrote Harewood.

“Sidney Poitier’s defiance, grace and style changed me – and shaped my life as an actor.”

The 56-year-old is currently starring in the Young Vic’s production of Best of Enemies, in which he plays the American conservative author and political commentator William F Buckley Jr.

Sidney Poitier: The charming trailblazer who continually challenged stereotypes

Friday 7 January 2022 20:33 , Annabel Nugent

After the Academy Award winner’s death, film writer Geoffrey Macnab pays tribute to a singular actor whose profound influence and legacy will be everlasting.

Sidney Poitier: The charming trailblazer who continually challenged stereotypes

Kerry Washington mourns the loss of ‘an elegant King'

Friday 7 January 2022 21:16 , Annabel Nugent

Kerry Washington has remembered Poitier following news of the actor’s death.

The Scandal star took to Twitter to thank Poitier “for not only opening the door, but for walking in this world with endless grace and excellence, so that today, still, we follow behind you, reaching toward the example that you set”.

She added: “Rest In Peace and in Power. We love you.”

Lupita Nyong’o remembers Poitier as ‘my hero'

Friday 7 January 2022 21:30 , Annabel Nugent

Academy Award-winner Lupita Nyong’o has paid tribute to Poitier, “my hero”.

The Kenyan-Mexican actor of Us and Twelves Years a Slave shared four photographs of the late actor on social media, accompanied by the caption: “Sidney Poitier, my hero. A life so well lived.”

Hilary Clinton pays tribute to Sidney Poitier

Friday 7 January 2022 21:45 , Annabel Nugent

Hilary Clinton has remembered Poitier with a post on social media.

“We were all so lucky to share a culture with Sidney Poitier, and benefit from his hand in shaping it,” wrote the former US secretary of state on Twitter.

Halle Berry remembers her ‘decades of friendship’ with Sidney Poitier

Friday 7 January 2022 22:00 , Annabel Nugent

Halle Berry has penned an emotional tribute remembering “my dear Sidney”.

The Monster’s Ball star wrote on Twitter: “‘A tiny bit of myself is lost when my friends are gone,’ Sidney Poitier wrote in his book LIFE BEYOND MEASURE. My dear Sidney, an enormous part of my soul weeps at your passing.

“In your ninety-four years on this planet, you left an indelible mark with your extraordinary talent, paving the way for Black people to be seen and heard in the fullness of who we are.”

Berry continued: “You were an iconic trailblazer; yours was a life well lived. I grew up idolizing [sic] you and will always remember the day when I first met you. It is the only time in my life when I’ve been rendered speechless!”

The actor became the first Black woman to win an Oscar for Best Actress in 2002. At the same ceremony, Poitier was given an Honorary Award, presented to him on the night by Denzel Washington.

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