Legendary performer Sidney Poitier, known for being the first Black actor to win the Academy Award for Best Actor in 1964, has died. The Tony nominee was 94. The Minister of Foreign Affairs in the Bahamas, where Poitier was raised, confirmed the death.
Born in 1927, Poitier grew up in the Bahamas and moved to New York City at the age of 16. He quickly joined the North American Negro Theatre and landed his breakthrough film role as a high school student in the film Blackboard Jungle in 1955 that kick-started his career.
Known as being one of the last surviving major stars from the Golden Age of Hollywood, Poitier made history as the first Black actor to win an Oscar for Best Actor for his role in 1964’s Lilies of the Field. He is known for his leading turns in The Defiant Ones (1958), Porgy and Bess (1959), A Raisin in the Sun (1961), Paris Blues (1961), Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967) and more. Poitier’s screen acting went on to earn him two more Academy Award nominations, 10 Golden Globes nominations, two Primetime Emmy Awards nominations, six BAFTA nominations and one Screen Actors Guild Awards nomination. He was nominated for a Tony Award For Best Actor in a Play in 1960 for his starring turn in the original production of A Raisin in the Sun. His other Broadway credits include Carry Me Back to Morningside Heights, Lysistrata and Anna Lucasta.
Poitier received a Grammy for Best Spoken Word Album in 2001 for his autobiography The Measure of a Man, which serves as the inspiration for Charles Randolph-Wright’s Broadway-bound new play directed by Ruben Santiago-Hudson.