Today in history, April 13th, 1964… Sidney Poitier became the first black performer in a leading role to win an Oscar for his role in Lilies Of The Field.
Sidney Poitier Made Oscar History Today – Black Actors And The Best Actor Academy Award
Sidney Poitier Made Oscar History Today - Black Actors And The Best Actor Academy Award
He also holds the record for the the youngest black actor (male) to win the Best Actor Oscar, at age 37.
This would be Poitier’s second nomination for the award; the first being for his performance in The Defiant Ones, 5 years earlier.
It would take another looooong 38 years before another black actor would win the Best Actor Oscar – Denzel Washington, in 2001, for his performance in Training Day. And coincidentally, that win made Denzel the oldest black actor to win the Best Actor Oscar, at 47 years old. That was in 2002.
Since then, 2 black actors have won the Best Actor Oscar – Jamie Foxx for his performance in Ray in 2005, and Forest Whitaker for his role as Idi Amin in The Last King Of Scotland in 2007.
In total, black actors have been nominated 20 times for the Best Actor award, and won on just 4 occasions, all listed above.
Denzel has the most Best Actor nominations with 4, followed by Morgan Freeman with 3; though Morgan’s never won it!
Chiwetel Ejiofor was the most recent nominee in that category for his performance in 12 Years A Slave.
In the first video below, Sidney accepts the 1964 Oscar for Best Actor from Anne Bancroft; and in the clip underneath, Denzel Washington serves Sir Sidney with an Honorary Oscar during the 74th Annual Academy Awards ceremony, in 2002.