Actor and director Sidney Poitier has passed away

Sidney Poitier, legendary American and Bahamian actor, the first black actor to receive the Oscar for best actor, died on January 6, 2022 at the age of 94. The world of cinema is losing a giant.

From the Bahamas to Hollywood

Born during a family trip to Miami on February 20, 1927, Sidney Poitier was a two month premature infant who was not given much chance of survival. His parents, farmers and tomato growers on Cat Island in the Bahamas, went regularly to the city of Florida to sell their products. But this time, they stay there for three months to allow their newborn to gain strength and gain health before reaching the Bahamas. If their child automatically becomes, by his place of birth, a citizen of the United States, the Poitier parents are obviously far from imagining that he will become one of the great American actors of the 20th century.

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The lily of the fields ©United Artists

At fifteen, he joined his brother’s family in Miami before leaving at sixteen for New York. He dips in restaurants before working in a military hospital in New York. He stayed there for a year, until December 1944. Back to diving until he passed an audition and joined theAmerican Negro Theater in Harlem. But the theater attracted him perhaps a little less than the screen, where he was revealed in 1950 with The door opens de Joseph L. Mankiewicz.

First black actor to receive the Oscar for best actor

Between the 50s and 90s, Sidney Poitier will play in more than forty feature films, and deliver some memorable performances. There is, for example, La Chaîne in 1958, which earned him a first Oscar nomination for best actor. But above all, there is The lily of the fields in 1963, where his role as an itinerant handyman who built a chapel with German nuns earned him the first black actor awarded the Oscar for best actor.

He took a step back from the industry, but it was only to come back better from 1965. From there until A Piece of the action in 1977, one of his ten achievements, he went on to perform roles and achieve great success. A corner of blue sky, In the heat of the Night, Guess who’s coming to dinner …, so many titles that built his legend and established him as an iconic Hollywood actor.

Active as an activist for civil rights and representative of the Bahamian community, he was its ambassador to Japan between 1997 and 2007. In 2009, he was decorated by Barack Obama with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest distinction American civilian.

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