Entertainment

Sidney Poitier, considered Hollywood’s first black idol, has died aged 84

Sidney Poitier has passed away at the age of 94, according to Eugene Torchon-Newryacting Director General of the Department of State in the Bahamas. Poitier grew up in the Bahamas, after being born in Miami in 1927.

The actor, director, and activist was the first Black actor to be nominated for any lead role in an Academy Award, for “The Defiant Ones” in 1958, and First black actor to win abest actor for “Lilies of the Field” in 1963. Many of his most famous films deal with racism and are considered ahead of their time, dealing with these issues. that mainstream Hollywood often ignores. In the 1967 film “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,” he played the love interest of a white woman (Katharine Houghton) who positively portrays interracial relationships that America still refuses to acknowledge. Loving v. Virginia, a civil rights case in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that interracial marriage laws violate the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution, was decided only that same year.

Poitier initially turned down the role of Porgy, in Samuel Goldwyn’s adaptation of George Gershwin’s “Porgy and Bess,” objecting to the stereotypical writing of the Black characters in the musical. After Goldwyn was accused threatens his careerhe performed the role, skipping the 1959 premiere of the film. He largely agreed to be in the film to make “The Defiant Ones,” which deals with racial politics.

With his low and booming voice (he was listen to the radio lost her West Indian accent) and tall build, Poitier is known as Hollywood’s first black Matinee idol. His many other films include “To Sir With Love”, where he plays a teacher at a London school, and “In the Heat of the Night”, where his character struggles to be accepts to be a detective and has to deal with the racism of a lawyer. Those two films, along with “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” were some of the highest-grossing Hollywood films of 1967. He also appeared on Broadway in “Lysistrata” and “A Raisin in the Sun,” and director of the Broadway play “Take me back to the top of the morning side. “

“He’s the reason a movie is made: the first solo African-American movie star, above and beyond the title,” Denzel Washington said at the 2002 Academy Awards, where Poitier was awarded an honorary Oscar. Poitier also received Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009 from President Barack Obama.

But, as the New York Times wrote, “Throughout my careera heavy weight of racial connotation has weighed on Mr. Poitier and the characters he plays. “I feel very much as if I am representing 15, 18 million people with every action that I take,” he once wrote.

At the age of 40, he began directing and producing most mainstream films, such as Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder’s “Stir Crazy” (1980). He also wrote three critically acclaimed memoirs. Poitier had six daughters, four with his first wife Juanita Marie Hardy, whom he divorced in 1965, and two with his second wife and former co-star Joanna Shimkus, who is still alive.

In one 1995 interview with Oprah, Poitier talks about how his impoverished childhood shaped him and helped him take on and develop roles he believes will be important: “I was taught that I have fundamental rights to I was taught that I was a person. We had no electricity and no running water – I was still taught that I was someone.”

More stories like these:

https://www.salon.com/2022/01/07/sidney-poitier-dies/ Sidney Poitier, considered Hollywood’s first black idol, has died aged 84

Caroline Bleakley

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