Hollywood legend Sidney Poitier dies at 94

Was the first Black actor to win an Academy Award for Best Actor

Legendary actor Sidney Poitier has died.

Born three months premature, in Miami, Florida, it was uncertain if he would survive. His father bought a small casket; his mother visited a palm reader, who told her not to worry, her son would ‘walk with kings’.

Poitier’s acting career began at the American Negro Theatre in Harlem. The experience was short-lived. He was tone-deaf, and could not sing or dance, which was a must for Black stage performers at the time.

His move to the big screen came in 1949, in “No Way Out”, the story of a new doctor who is confronted by a racist patient.

Poitier came into his own several years later, portraying a disruptive pupil in an inner-city school in Blackboard Jungle.

In 1958, Poitier became the first Black actor to be nominated for an Oscar as Best Actor for his role opposite Tony Curtis in “The Defiant Ones”. He would win the award in 1963 for his work in “Lilies of the Field” – the only Black man to win the award until 2002. He was also the first Black man to kiss a White woman in a movie, 1965’s “A Patch of Blue.”

Poitier will also be remembered for his performances in “In the Heat of the Night’, for which he received a Golden Globe nomination, and in “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner”.

He would also find success as a director, including Stir Crazy, with Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder, and the thrillers Shoot to Kill and Little Nikita.

Poitier spent his later years in the Bahamas.

He was 94.

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