Academy-Award-winning actor and philanthropist Sir Sidney Poitier has passed away today in the Bahamas, according to Eyewitness News Bahamas.
The news of Poitier’s death broke early Friday. The news outlet’s Facebook page wrote, “Beloved Bahamian actor and former ambassador Sir Sidney Poitier has died. He was 94. A Broadway play about the trailblazing career of the visionary actor was announced last month. Sir Sidney’s death was confirmed by Minister of Foreign Affairs Fred Mitchell.”
The veteran actor, born in Miami, would have turned 95 on February 20. Among his myriad of accomplishments, Poitier was the first Black and Bahamian actor to win an Oscar for best actor. He won the coveted honor in 1964 for the groundbreaking film Lilies of The Field. Poitier also paved the path for Black actors and his activism was undeniable. The performer often declined roles that he felt compromised the integrity of Black people.
Due to his illustrious work on-and-off the bog screen, Queen II bestowed an honorary knighthood on to the Bahamian/ American citizen in 1974. As the Bahamas is still part of the British Commonwealth, Poitier went by the formal title “Sir” in the Bahamas and overseas, but dropped the title in the United States.
He also served as the Bahamian ambassador to Japan between 1997 and 2007 and UNESCO. In 2009, Poitier received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from then-President Barack Obama. The In The Heat of The Night star retired from acting in 2000 – the same year he released his book– “The Measure of a Man: A Spiritual Autobiography.”
Bahamian Prime Minister Phillip Davis addressed Bahamians during a press conference early Friday, saying he was “conflicted with great sadness and a sense of celebration when I learned of the passing of Sir Sidney Poitier.”
“Sadness that he would no longer be here to tell him how much he means to us, but celebration that he did so much to show the world that those from the humblest beginnings can change the world and that we gave him his flowers while he was with us,” he added.
“We have lost an icon. A hero, a mentor, a fighter, a national treasure.”
“We admire the man not just because of his colossal achievement, but because of who he was, his strength of character and his willingness to stand up and be counted”.
The country’s flags will be flown at half-mast in and that extends to Bahamian embassies around the world.
Celebrities and fans expressed their sadness for the fallen actor.
I was thinking, literally yesterday, that someone should reach out to Sidney Poitier for one last interview before it was too late. RIP to a trailblazer https://t.co/btf5kcKSRH
— Wesley (@WesleyLowery) January 7, 2022
“I’ll be chasing you, Sidney. I’ll always be following in your footsteps.”
— Lights, Camera, Pod (@LightsCameraPod) 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
— Jeffrey Wright (@jfreewright) January 7, 2022
Poor People’s Campaign, Resurrection City, Washington, D.C., May 1968
Powerful beyond the stage and screen. pic.twitter.com/hEKRxGvoM2
— Be A King (@BerniceKing) January 7, 2022
We lost an elegant King today. Thank you Sidney Poitier. For not only opening the door, but for walking in this world with endless grace and excellence, so that today, still, we follow behind you, reaching toward the example that you set. Rest In Peace and in Power. We love you. pic.twitter.com/CP2ga9KiHu
— kerry washington (@kerrywashington) January 7, 2022
Rest well, Sir!