Actor Sidney Poitier passed away earlier today at 94-years-old.
Although his cause of death is still unknown at this time, that didn’t stop celebrities from taking time to honor the trailblazer, who had made history for becoming the first Black actor to win an Academy Award for Best Actor.
The late acting legend also won a Grammy, three Golden Globe Awards, and was nominated for two Primetime Emmy Awards. In his memoir, “The Measure of A Man,” Poitier candidly discussed struggling to find work, writing, “Broadway had almost nothing for a black man.”
This afternoon, celebrities around the globe are taking the time to honor Poitier for breaking racial barriers in the entertainment industry.
Oprah Winfrey Honors Sidney Poitier
Sidney Poitier 🕊 pic.twitter.com/otVjSFHaw8
— Oprah Winfrey (@Oprah) January 7, 2022
On her website, Oprah Daily, Oprah Winfrey paid tribute to the Bahamian American actor, saying, “For me, the greatest of the ‘Great Trees’ has fallen: Sidney Poitier.”
“My honor to have loved him as a mentor,” she continued. “Friend. Brother. Confidant. Wisdom teacher. 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.”
Poitier leaves behind his wife, Joanna Shimkus, and six daughters.
Oprah added that “he represented possibility” in an episode of “Master Class” and talked about how her 10-year-old self was moved by watching him accept his Oscar back in 1963.
Poitier Represented ‘The Best Of What A Black Person Could Be In The World’
Last year, Oprah told ET that “Because he did that, I was able to do what I have been able to do in the world, and every single other Black person who followed. It only happened because he was able not just to do that, but to be that.”
She continued, “It’s what he represented: his dignity, integrity, presence, grace, sense of honor, choice of characters only doing, and choosing roles that were going to reflect, the best of what a Black person could be in the world.”
She also praised his memoir, “The Measure of A Man,” saying, “He writes really candidly and passionately about his childhood, his family, relationships, and his extraordinary career. [The book] really is about what makes character, what makes you be who you are. He is the measure of one of the greatest men I think who has ever been on our planet.”
Barack Obama & More Honor The Late Legend
Barack Obama, who awarded Sidney Poitier with the Presidential Medal of Freedom during his first term, honored the actor on Friday, praising Poitier’s “singular talent” and ability to reveal “the power of movies to bring us closer together.” https://t.co/WbQJkHRBJJ pic.twitter.com/KY4BJ8oBjI
— The New York Times (@nytimes) January 7, 2022
Former President Barack Obama, who awarded Poitier with the Presidential Medal of Freedom during his firm term in office, took to Twitter to express his condolences.
“Through his groundbreaking roles and singular talent, Sidney Poitier epitomized dignity and grace, revealing the power of movies to bring us closer together,” he tweeted. “He also opened doors for a generation of actors. Michelle and I send our love to his family and legion of fans.”
“Stark Trek” alum George Takei tweeted, “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.”
TCM host Ben Mankiewicz tweeted, “Sidney Poitier bore a responsibility no other actor of his era had to carry. He didn’t choose to represent all Black men, but as the sole Black leading man in a business uncomfortable with more than one, such was his lot. Still, he delivered nuance, charm, & honesty to each role.”
Sidney Poitier was a legendary actor and director who paved the way for DECADES of leading Black men in film. He was the 1st Black actor to win the Academy Award for 1963’s “Lilies of the Field.” This leader & trailblazer will be missed. Rest In Power, Sidney Poitier pic.twitter.com/2wp8lejBTa
— Ben Crump (@AttorneyCrump) January 7, 2022
Attorney and Civil Rights Advocate Ben Crump tweeted, “Sidney Poitier was a legendary actor and director who paved the way for DECADES of leading Black men in film. He was the 1st Black actor to win the Academy Award for 1963’s “Lilies of the Field.” This leader & trailblazer will be missed. Rest In Power, Sidney Poitier.”
Even comedian Paul F. Tompkins tweeted, “Almost 20 years ago I was having lunch with friends at a restaurant & at one point I looked up to see Sidney Poitier standing & chatting at another table. I have never been that gobsmacked by seeing a famous person. It was like seeing someone out of mythology come to life.”
Singer Dionne Warwick also shared a personal story of Poitier, tweeting, “He once caught me following him. He said ‘little girl what do you want’ I muttered ‘can I have your autograph’. From that day he always called me little girl and asked if I wanted his autograph. It was something we laughed about. He was my hero & great friend. May he RIP.”
He once caught me following him. He said “little girl what do you want” I muttered “can I have your autograph”. From that day he always called me little girl and asked if I wanted his autograph. It was something we laughed about. He was my hero & great friend. May he RIP ❤️. https://t.co/yQhuiDCZse
— Dionne Warwick (@dionnewarwick) January 7, 2022