Death of Sidney Poitier, the first black actor crowned at the Oscars

During his rich and long career, he appeared in some fifty films, including Le Lys des champs.

It is a disappearance that would certainly have saddened Peter Bogdanovich a lot. Hollywood says goodbye today to one of its legends, one of its very pioneers. Sidney Poitier, died this Friday at the age of 94. He will forever be remembered as the first black man to win the Oscar for Best Actor, a symbol of the beginning of the end of racial segregation in America.

Originally from the Bahamas and descended from a slave family – who had adopted the French name of the master of the plantation in which she worked, as was customary – Sidney Poitier moved to America as a teenager and began his theater career, before landing his first film role in Blackboard Jungle in 1955.

In 1958, he gave the reply to Tony Curtis in Chain (The Defiant Ones), his first major role, which earned him an award in Berlin and already a first Oscar nomination. He was then in his thirties and laid the foundations for a historic career. Because five years later Sidney Poitier will leave this time with the trophy. In 1964, for his performance in The lily of the fields, he becomes the first black man to receive the award for best actor at the Oscars. On stage, he will deliver a speech for History:

It took almost 40 years for Denzel Washington to succeed him, in 2001 (with Training Day). Since then, Jamie Foxx (2005) and Forest Whitaker (2007) have also been crowned.

Poitier, him, will receive a second statuette, in 2002, to honor his career. A rich filmography of around fifty films, including some outstanding masterpieces, such as Guess who’s coming to dinner and especially In the heat of the Night (in 1967).

From the 1970s, Sidney Poitier started directing and directed around ten feature films including Madness on the hunt, with Gene Wilder (in 1982). He continued to tour until the early 2000s. We find him in the footsteps of Jackal Bruce Willis (in 1997) then on television in the prestige TV movie The Noah Dearborn Affair.

In the coming hours, the reactions will follow one another to salute the memory of the Hollywood pioneer. Already, the actor of James bond, Jeffrey Wright, posted a poignant tribute on the networks:

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