Sidney Poitier Dies At 94

Live Updates

Sidney Poitier cause of death revealed to be heart failure, underlying issues

By

Update (Jan. 19, 2022): According to a variety of news reports Tuesday, a death certificate for legendary actor Sidney Poitier revealed he died of heart failure at 94. Underlying health issues contributing to his death include dementia and heart failure, according to his death certificate.

Poitier is survived by his wife, a retired actor from Canada named Joanna Shimkus, as well as five daughters.

Original Story (Jan. 7, 2022): According to the acting director general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the Bahamas, groundbreaking actor Sidney Poitier died Thursday at the age of 94. The video above includes a statement from the prime minister of the Bahamas, as well as a growing memorial at Poitier’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He is perhaps most well-known for becoming the first black man to win the Oscar for “Best Actor”. The win came in 1964 for his performance in “Lilies of the Field.” Before Poitier, the only Black actor to win a competitive Oscar was Hattie McDaniel. She won Best Supporting Actress in 1939 for her performance in “Gone With the Wind.”

The Oscar was just one of the highlights of what was a prolific acting career for Poitier. That career peaked in 1967 when he appeared in three of the year’s most notable movies:

  • “To Sir, With Love”: Poitier starred as a school teacher who wins over his unruly students at a London secondary school.
  • “In the Heat of the Night”: Poitier played a determined police detective.
  • “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner”:  Poitier played a prominent doctor who wishes to marry a young white woman he only recently met.

It was the variety of roles Poitier played that may have been even more significant than his performances. Before Poitier, few Black actors were able to get roles outside the stereotypes of servants or entertainers. Hollywood filmmakers rarely even attempted to tell a Black person’s story.

Theater owners named Poitier the No. 1 star of 1967, making him the first Black actor to top the list. Fast forward to 2002, he won a lifetime achievement award from the American Film Institute, as well as a special Academy Award. And in 2009, then-President Barack Obama awarded Poitier the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Poitier “not only entertained but enlightened … revealing the power of the silver screen to bring us closer together,” Obama said. On Friday, tributes to Poitier started flooding in on social media after the news of his death was released.

“If you wanted the sky i would write across the sky in letters that would soar a thousand feet high.. To Sir… with Love Sir Sidney Poitier R.I.P. He showed us how to reach for the stars,” award winning actor and TV host Whoopi Goldberg tweeted. In her own tweet, Oscar winner Viola Davis added “No words can describe how your work radically shifted my life. The dignity, normalcy, strength, excellence and sheer electricity you brought to your roles showed us that we, as Black folks, mattered!!!”

Prime Minister Hon. Philip Davis, Bahamas: “It is with great sadness that I learned this morning of the passing of Sir Sidney Poitier. A whole Bahamas grieves and extends our deepest condolences to his family. But even as we mourn, we celebrate the life of a great Bahamian. A cultural icon, an actor and film director and a civil and human rights activist and latterly a diplomat. We admire the man not just because of his colossal achievements, but also because of who he was. His strength of character. His willingness to stand up and be counted. And the way he plotted and navigated his life’s journey. The boy who moved from the tomato farm of Cat Island to become a waiter in the United States. The young man who not only taught himself to read and write but who made the expression of words and thoughts and feelings central to his career. The man who expressed his rage against racial injustice through quiet dignity. The humanitarian who used his steely determination not just to better himself but to better the world that he lived in, filtered through the milk of human kindness. And all of it achieved without sacrificing integrity, charm, elegance, all of it. These things don’t come easily. But the fight can be good. Your peers don’t give you an Oscar. You win an Oscar. Success is not a given, but it can come to those who translate talent into craft and perseverance. As Sir Sidney set himself in his autobiography, ‘You don’t have to become something you are not to be better than you were.’ This is the mark of the man.  In our national anthem we remind ourselves to see how the world marks the manner of our bearing. Sir Sidney’s bearing upon the world shines as among the best of us. Our country is in mourning, so I have instructed that the Bahamian flag be flown at half mast, at home and in our embassies around the world. We know the world mourns with us. Sir Sidney’s light will continue to shine brightly for generations to come.”

Comments are still pending approval. Rate this story to add your own thoughts below.

Comments are still pending approval. Rate this story to add your own thoughts below.

Comments are still pending approval. Rate this story to add your own thoughts below.

Comments are still pending approval. Rate this story to add your own thoughts below.

Get ready to rate in…

lock

Watch the video to unlock rating

Your Rating

Rating closes in 4 days

Total User Rating

eye icon

Rate to reveal

Community ratings are revealed after you rate the story.

comment bubbles

Update (Jan. 19, 2022): According to a variety of news reports Tuesday, a death certificate for legendary actor Sidney Poitier revealed he died of heart failure at 94. Underlying health issues contributing to his death include dementia and heart failure, according to his death certificate.

Poitier is survived by his wife, a retired actor from Canada named Joanna Shimkus, as well as five daughters.

Original Story (Jan. 7, 2022): According to the acting director general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the Bahamas, groundbreaking actor Sidney Poitier died Thursday at the age of 94. The video above includes a statement from the prime minister of the Bahamas, as well as a growing memorial at Poitier’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He is perhaps most well-known for becoming the first black man to win the Oscar for “Best Actor”. The win came in 1964 for his performance in “Lilies of the Field.” Before Poitier, the only Black actor to win a competitive Oscar was Hattie McDaniel. She won Best Supporting Actress in 1939 for her performance in “Gone With the Wind.”

The Oscar was just one of the highlights of what was a prolific acting career for Poitier. That career peaked in 1967 when he appeared in three of the year’s most notable movies:

  • “To Sir, With Love”: Poitier starred as a school teacher who wins over his unruly students at a London secondary school.
  • “In the Heat of the Night”: Poitier played a determined police detective.
  • “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner”:  Poitier played a prominent doctor who wishes to marry a young white woman he only recently met.

It was the variety of roles Poitier played that may have been even more significant than his performances. Before Poitier, few Black actors were able to get roles outside the stereotypes of servants or entertainers. Hollywood filmmakers rarely even attempted to tell a Black person’s story.

Theater owners named Poitier the No. 1 star of 1967, making him the first Black actor to top the list. Fast forward to 2002, he won a lifetime achievement award from the American Film Institute, as well as a special Academy Award. And in 2009, then-President Barack Obama awarded Poitier the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Poitier “not only entertained but enlightened … revealing the power of the silver screen to bring us closer together,” Obama said. On Friday, tributes to Poitier started flooding in on social media after the news of his death was released.

“If you wanted the sky i would write across the sky in letters that would soar a thousand feet high.. To Sir… with Love Sir Sidney Poitier R.I.P. He showed us how to reach for the stars,” award winning actor and TV host Whoopi Goldberg tweeted. In her own tweet, Oscar winner Viola Davis added “No words can describe how your work radically shifted my life. The dignity, normalcy, strength, excellence and sheer electricity you brought to your roles showed us that we, as Black folks, mattered!!!”

Get ready to rate in…

Community Rating

Community ratings are revealed after you rate the story.

lock

Watch the video to unlock rating

Rate the bias

Keep us honest! Let us know if you thought this video was neutral or biased.

Comments are still pending approval. Rate this story to add your own thoughts below.