Sidney Poitier, the pioneering Bahamian-American Hollywood star and the first Black man to win an Academy Award for best actor, died on Thursday evening at the age of 94, according to CNN. Clint Watson, the Prime Minister of the Bahamas’ press secretary, confirmed Poitier’s death to the news organization.
His onscreen demeanor and evident talent made him the first Black movie star in Hollywood, breaking racial barriers in the American film business. For his role in the 1963 film Lilies of the Field, Poitier became the first Black man to receive an Academy Award for Best Actor.
Poitier was born in Miami, Florida in 1927, but went to the Bahamas when he was 16 years old. Poitier grew raised in a humble home with tomato producers for parents. His passion for the arts led him back to the United States, where he joined the North American Negro Theatre and landed his first film part in the 1955 picture Blackboard Jungle.
Poitier has grown in leaps and bounds since then.
In addition to The Defiant Ones, Lilies of the Field, A Raisin in the Sun, and A Patch of Blue, he appeared in a number of other award-winning films. Poitier’s impact on the industry, particularly among people of color, was enormous, and it cleared the path for other Black people to succeed despite discrimination.
Six children, eight grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren survive Poitier.