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Sidney Poitier: Remembering historic Academy Award speech following actor’s death aged 94

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Fans are rewatching Sidney Poitier’s emotional and historic 1964 Academy Award win following the actor’s death aged 94.

The death of the Hollywood star, who was known for films including Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner and In the Heat of the Night, was announced on Friday (7 January) by the Bahamian Minister of Foreign Affairs Fred Mitchell.

Figures from across the world of entertainment have paid tribute to the trailblazing actor, including Jeffrey Wright, George Takei and Colman Domingo.

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.

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.

“Because it is a long journey to this moment, I am naturally indebted to countless numbers of people,” he said in his acceptance speech.

He then listed off Ralph Nelson, James Poe, William Barrett and Martin Baum, adding through tears at the end: “And of course the members of the Academy. For all of them, all I can say is a very special thank you.”

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