Pioneering black movie star Sidney Poitier dies at 94

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Sidney Poitier, Hollywood’s first major black movie star, has died at the age of 94, the Bahamian government said on Friday.

Poitier, who held dual American and Bahamian citizenship, was “an icon, a hero, a mentor, a fighter, a national treasure,” Deputy Prime Minister Chester Cooper said on his official Facebook page.

The famous comedian became the first black star nominated for an Oscar with “The Defiant Ones” of 1958 and, six years later, was the first to win the Oscar for best actor for his performance in “Lilies of the Field” .

Poitier achieved mainstream popularity with a series of groundbreaking roles during an era of great racial tension in America in the 1950s and 1960s.

He’s balanced success with a sense of duty to choose projects that grapple with bigotry and stereotypes, including his 1967 classics “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” and “In the Heat of the Night.”

“I was in conflict with great sadness and a sense of celebration when I learned of the passing of Sir Sidney Poitier,” Cooper said on Friday.

“Sadness that he is no longer there to tell him how much he means to us, but celebration that he has done so much to show the world that those from the humblest beginnings can change the world.

“He will be sorely missed, but he is a legacy that will never be forgotten.”

Poitier received an Honorary Oscar in 2002 for his “extraordinary performances” on the big screen and for his “dignity, style and intelligence”.

(AFP)

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