The film industry suffered a devastating loss. On Friday, January 7, famed actor Sidney Poiter died at the age of 94.
According to The Independent, Sidney Poitier died on Friday, January 7, at the age of 94. The actor was well-known for his powerful performances and later career as an ambassador.
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He was also the first Bahamian and African American to win an Academy Award for Lilies of the Field in 1964. The actor’s death was announced by Bahamian Foreign Minister Fred Mitchell, and no cause of death has been disclosed.
Sidney was born on February 20, 1927, in Miami, Florida. His parents were from the Bahamas, where he grew up with little education and no exposure to life outside of his family’s farm.
When he was 12, his family relocated to Nassau, the Bahamian capital, and he saw his first movie. Sidney’s father encouraged him to relocate to the United States because he was already a citizen and could support himself.
Sidney discovered the American Negro Theater in New York City after a brief stint in the Army. In exchange for acting classes, he worked as a janitor.
When Harry Belafonte was unable to perform one night, Sidney was called in to fill in, and he impressed the audience and landed his first official stage role in Lysistrata, which he followed up with Anna Lucasta. In 1950, Sidney made his film debut in No Way Out.
Sidney made an indelible mark on Hollywood with his performances in films such as Cry, The Beloved Country, Blackboard Jungle, A Patch of Blue, and Raisin In The Sun. He established himself as a genuine movie star, co-starring with Tony Curtis in The Defiant Ones and Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn in Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner.
Sidney continued to make films until 2001. His final acting role was in the television film The Last Brickmaker in America. He continued to appear in documentaries and specials, including presenting the Academy Award for Best Director at the 2014 Oscars.
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President Barack Obama awarded Sidney the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009. In 1974, Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom awarded him a knighthood. He has always held dual citizenship with the United States and the Bahamas, and the island nation asked him to serve as an ambassador to Japan in 1997.
He was also the Bahamas’ representative to the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization. Sidney also wrote several books, including his spiritual autobiography, The Measure of a Man.
In 1950, he married Juanita Hardy, with whom he had four daughters. Sidney married Joanna Shimkus in 1976 after the couple divorced in 1965. They were the parents of two daughters.