American actor Sidney Poitier, Hollywood's first black star, has died
Sidney Poitier, a legendary actor and Hollywood's first black star, has died at 94, the deputy prime minister of the Bahamas, where the actor grew up, announced Friday.
We have lost an icon, a hero, a mentor, a fighter, and a national treasure, Deputy Prime Minister Chester Cooper wrote on his Facebook page about the The Chain and In the Heat of the Night actor.
Born prematurely in Miami, Florida, on February 20, 1927, when his parents moved from the neighboring Bahamas, Sidney Poitier obtained dual American and Bahamian nationality.
In 1964, he was the first African-American to win the Best Actor Oscar for The Lily of the Field.
Through his roles, the public was able to conceive that African Americans could be doctors (The Door Opens - 1950), engineers, teachers (Angels with Clenched Fists - 1967), or even policemen (In the Heat of the Night - 1967).
But at 37, when the actor with the incandescent smile received his Oscar, he was the only star of color in Hollywood.
The film industry was not yet ready to elevate more than one minority personality to stardom, he wrote in his autobiography This Life.
At that time, i was endorsing the hopes of a whole people. I had no control over the content of the films but I could refuse a role, which I did many times.
In Guess Who's Coming to Dinner in 1967, he plays the fiancé of a young white middle-class woman who introduces him to her parents, a couple of intellectuals who believe they are open-minded. The meeting is a shock, and gives a major film on the racism of the time.
Black activists, however, bitterly criticize Sidney Poitier for accepting the role of an internationally renowned doctor, the antithesis of the discrimination suffered by his peers. He is designated as the Service Negro, white fantasy. His unreal qualities of ideal son-in-law mask his negritude and the racist problems, they believe.
In 2002 Sidney Poitier received an honorary Oscar for his extraordinary performance, dignity, style and intelligence.