Sidney Poitier Dies: Oscar-Winning Trailblazer & Civil Rights Activist Was 94

Sidney Poitier in To Sir, With Love
Courtesy Everett Collection

Trailblazing performer and civil rights activist Sidney Poitier has died. The actor was 94 years old.

Poitier is best known by most as the first Black man and Bahamian to receive the Best Actor in a Leading Role at the Academy Awards, winning the coveted Oscar for 1964’s Lilies of the Field. The legendary thespian was also a director, writer, and producer who appeared in classics ranging from Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner and In the Heat of the Night to To Sir, With Love.

Sidney Poitier

(Credit: Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images for AFI )

The actor’s cause of death has not been revealed at this time but was reportedly announced by Bahamian Minister of Foreign Affairs Fred Mitchell. Along with making an impact on screen and behind the camera, Poitier also used his star power to call attention to important topics including civil rights issues and racial equity, among others.

Along with his film accolades, which also included an honorary Oscar in 2002 and a nomination in 1959 for The Defiant Ones, Poitier also made an impact on the small screen. Some of his notable TV roles include The Last Brickmaker in America, The Simple Life of Noah Dearborn, David and Lisa, Free of Eden, Mandela and de Klerk, To Sir, With Love II, Children of the Dust, Separate But Equal, and many more.

Poitier received Emmy nominations for his roles in Mandela and de Klerk as well as Separate But Equal. The actor received a Kennedy Center Honor in 1995, and in 2009, he was bestowed with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Barack Obama.

In addition to his legacy onscreen and in U.S. history, Poitier also leaves behind six children.