Sidney Poitier, the first Black actor to win an Academy Award (for his performance in 1963’s “Lilies of the Field”), has died at age 94. Tributes from friends and famous fans immediately began to pour in, honoring a trailblazer who forged a way forward for Black performers. Poitier enjoyed a lengthy career, first on Broadway and then starring in films including “In the Heat of the Night,” “A Raisin in the Sun” (in which he reprised his starring role from Broadway), “To Sir, With Love,” “A Patch of Blue,” and “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.”
“What a landmark actor. One of a kind. What a beautiful, gracious, warm, genuinely regal man,” Jeffrey Wright shared on Twitter. Lee Grant, his co-star in “In the Heat of the Night,” tweeted, “Sidney was a force of nature. One of [the] most intelligent, beautiful, and unstoppable human beings I’ve ever known. He made our world, and my life, better in ways we still may not entirely comprehend. Calling him a legend doesn’t do it justice. He was Sidney Poitier.”
Tyler Perry wrote, “The grace and class that this man has shown throughout his entire life, the example he set for me, not only as a black man but as a human being will never be forgotten. There is no man in this business who has been more of a North Star for me than Sidney Poitier.”
Through his groundbreaking roles and singular talent, Sidney Poitier epitomized dignity and grace, revealing the power of movies to bring us closer together. He also opened doors for a generation of actors. Michelle and I send our love to his family and legion of fans. pic.twitter.com/zkYKFSxfKA
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) January 7, 2022
#SidneyPoitier, your last sunset with us is the dawn of many generations rising in the path of light you blazed. We will always hold you in our hearts and forever speak your name. 🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼❤️❤️❤️ pic.twitter.com/hIKYCqM245
— Debbie Allen (@msdebbieallen) January 7, 2022
Around this time last year Cicely Tyson was releasing her book and promoting it. I had no idea she would pass away shortly thereafter. Now, to wake up this morning to a call that Sidney Poitier has passed away… continued: https://t.co/WWbsTgh1U0 pic.twitter.com/jgezv2ktGD
— Tyler Perry (@tylerperry) January 7, 2022
In losing Sidney Poitier today, we not only lost an iconic actor/director/producer, but we also lost a powerful force in civil rights. Sidney Poitier, a Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient, never stopped making history, and his work will be missed on and off the screen.
— Tim Alexander (@talexander_NJ02) January 7, 2022
So sad to read of the passing of Sidney Poitier. Thank you for gracing us with your brilliance. RIP pic.twitter.com/KQjJdKAw1p
— Marlee Matlin (@MarleeMatlin) January 7, 2022
This is a monumental loss. Sidney Poitier is quite literally the reason why I wanted to become an artist. Almost everyone I know has heard about the time I met him and embarrassed myself. There are very few people that I quake in the presence of. Rest easy, GOAT. #sidneypoitier pic.twitter.com/RCQX6NYFQP
— Keith Powell (@KeithPowell) January 7, 2022
Sidney was a force of nature. One of most intelligent, beautiful, and unstoppable human beings I’ve ever known. He made our world, and my life, better in ways we still may not entirely comprehend. Calling him a legend doesn’t do it justice. He was Sidney Poitier. #sidneypoitier pic.twitter.com/Qo7zLB9eQk
— Lee Grant (@TheLeeGrant) January 7, 2022
Sidney Poitier. What a landmark actor. One of a kind. What a beautiful, gracious, warm, genuinely regal man. RIP, Sir. With love.
(📷Sam Falk/NYT) pic.twitter.com/5ZaKxxPdxw
Until I can properly eulogize him later. Heart broken. I am because of him. He blazed a tremendous path for thespians such as me. I am forever grateful. Standing O for this giant. pic.twitter.com/B6ZgNZF8MG
— Colman Domingo (@colmandomingo) January 7, 2022
— Jeffrey Wright (@jfreewright) January 7, 2022
We are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Sidney Poitier, the legendary actor, director and diplomat who led a life of remarkable achievements, both on-screen and off. pic.twitter.com/g0M2wfmq2M
— BFI (@BFI) January 7, 2022
I’ve dreaded this day and I’m glad it was so long in coming. Rest in peace, Sidney Poitier. I don’t believe any actor in the history of movies had to navigate greater cultural complexities, or could have done it with more grace. He was a giant, and his influence is measureless.
— Mark Harris (@MarkHarrisNYC) January 7, 2022
Sidney Poitier (1927-2022) with Harry Belafonte at March on Washington: pic.twitter.com/4Tu6Fo7msn
— Michael Beschloss (@BeschlossDC) January 7, 2022
Sidney Poitier, the first Black man to win an Oscar, has died at the age of 94. The star of “Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner” and “Lilies of the Field,” for which he won Best Actor, was a trailblazer who will be mourned by so many for whom he opened the very doors of Hollywood.
— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) January 7, 2022
Sidney Poitier bore a responsibility no other actor of his era had to carry. He didn’t choose to represent all Black men, but as the sole Black leading man in a business uncomfortable with more than one, such was his lot. Still, he delivered nuance, charm, & honesty to each role.
— Ben Mankiewicz (@BenMank77) January 7, 2022
Sidney was my inspiration, my guiding light, my friend. Sending love to Joanna and his family. pic.twitter.com/0UzVIyeJZV
— Morgan Freeman (@morgan_freeman) January 7, 2022
Sidney was a true giant of a man – in presence and spirit – that we will greatly miss. Sending love to Joanna and the kids and grands and greats… pic.twitter.com/YMnjNkZATI
— Lori McCreary (@LoriMcCreary) January 7, 2022