Sidney Poitier, the trailblazing Bahamian-American Hollywood star and the first Black man to win an Oscar for best actor, passed away on Thursday evening at the age of 94, CNN reported. The press secretary for the Prime Minister of the Bahamas, Clint Watson, confirmed Poitier’s death to the news outlet.
The deceased actor broke racial barriers in the American film industry as his onscreen persona and undeniable talent made him the first Black movie star in Hollywood. Poitier became the first Black man to win an Oscar for Best Actor for his 1963 film, Lilies of the Field.
Poitier was born in Miami in 1927 but moved to the Bahamas where he lived until he was 16. Poitier grew up in a modest home and his parents were tomato farmers. His ambition and drive for the art brought him back to the U.S., where he joined the North American Negro Theatre, landing his breakthrough film role in a 1955 movie, Blackboard Jungle.
Poitier, since then, grew in leaps and bounds.
He featured in a host of award-winning movies including, The Defiant Ones, Lilies of the Field, A Raisin in the Sun and A Patch of Blue. Poitier’s influence in the industry, especially for people of color, was overwhelming, and it paved way for other Black people to flourish in the face of discrimination.
Poitier is survived by six children, eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.