World

Sidney Poitier, terrorized by the Klu Klux Klan and first black person to win an Oscar, dies at 94

HE was a pioneer as the first black person to win an Academy Award for best actor and Barack Obama said he had “exhibited dignity and grace”.

Sir Sidney Poitier, who passed away at the age of 94, not only opened the door to other black stars but also helped break down barriers in society.

The late Sir Sidney Poitier, who died aged 94, helped break down barriers in society

9

The late Sir Sidney Poitier, who died aged 94, helped break down barriers in societyCredit: Getty
He's the first black man to win the Academy Award for best actor and Barack Obama says he has'represented dignity and grace'

9

He’s the first black man to win the Academy Award for best actor and Barack Obama says he has ‘represented dignity and grace’Credit: Getty Images – Getty

Growing up on the Cay Island, in the Bahamas, in the 1920s, he was oblivious to the racial turmoil in the outside world.

“There were two white people on our island,” he recalls. One is a doctor, the other is the daughter of a shop owner. And I never realized that they were nothing but humans. “

The youngest of seven children, his parents Evelyn and Reginald were tomato farmers who lived without water or electricity.

Sidney was born on February 20, 1927, in Miami, Florida, where his parents delivered products – which allowed him US citizenship.

So, after leaving school at the age of 12 to support the family business, three years later he was sent to live with an older brother in Miami, with more than £2 in his pocket.

He once said: “What I didn’t expect was its racial configuration. I learned pretty quickly that there were places I couldn’t go.”

Acting lesson

After a few scrubs with the Ku Klux Klan, Sidney moved to New York, where he took a job washing dishes.

In the city’s Harlem district, he saw an advertisement for actors for the Black Theater of America and auditioned for the part.

In a faltering Caribbean accent, he reads through the lines of a script before the director shouts, “Don’t waste your time – get a job as a dishwasher!”

Sidney said: ‘When I walked up to the bus, what embarrassed me was the suggestion that all he could see in me was a dishwasher. I was so upset, I said, ‘I’m going to be an actor, whatever that is’. “

He eventually found a job at the theater in exchange for acting lessons, and his time off came when Harry Belafonte was given the lead role and couldn’t get into acting, so Sidney joined.

A Broadway producer was impressed with his talent and invited him to star in the Ancient Greek play Lysistrata. His film career began when he played a hospital doctor treating a racist bigot in the 1950 crime drama No Way Out.

As I walked to the bus, what embarrassed me was the suggestion that all he could see from me was a dishwasher. I was so upset, I said, ‘I’m going to be an actor, whatever it is’

Sidney Poitier

In 1950s segregated America, there were few opportunities for black actors, but Sidney refused to compromise his principles to take on a role with negative connotations.

His breakout role was as Gregory W Miller, a talented but rebellious student in 1955’s Blackboard Jungle, about a mixed-race inner-city school.

Sidney’s career took off, and in 1963 he won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his role as an itinerant worker in the film Lilies Of The Field. By 1967 he was America’s No. 1 box office star and that year would prove to be the pinnacle of his film career, with a successful hat-trick – To Sir, With Love, in which he played as a teacher in London’s East End, In The Heat of the Night And Guess Who Came To Dinner.

However, he has faced criticism for taking on “Uncle Tom” roles in which the characters are too dependent on white people. He later told Oprah Winfrey: “I have lived off the people who have always supported me. It has been painful for a few years. I am the most successful black actor in the history of the country.”

Knighted by the Queen in 1974 – because the Bahamas was a colony of the UK – Sidney felt at home in England, where he believed there was greater racial harmony.

In 1988, he told veteran British showbiz journalist Garth Pearce: “I always feel at home in the UK. I was welcomed here like no other place. British people are color blind by background and race. I have worked and stayed here many times and it is like a second home.”

I have lived through people who turned their backs on me. It has been painful for a few years. I am the most successful black actor in the history of the country.

Sidney Poitier

Sidney has been married twice and has six daughters, including actress Sydney, 47.
When Denzel Washington became the second person to win the Academy Award for Best Black Actor for the film Training Day in 2001, he said in his acceptance speech: “I will always be after you, Sidney.

“I will always follow in your footsteps. I don’t want to do anything, sir. ”

Sidney, once modest about his achievements, once said: “History will determine that I am but a minor ingredient in a great unfolding event, a small energy if necessary. But anyway, I’m glad I was chosen. ”

After several rubbings with the Ku Klux Klan, Sidney moved to New York, where he took a job washing dishes, here with his wife Joanna and his daughters.

9

After several rubbings with the Ku Klux Klan, Sidney moved to New York, where he took a job washing dishes, here with his wife Joanna and his daughters.Credit: AP: Associated Press
Sidney once said:'History will define me as just a minor ingredient in a great unfolding event, a small energy if necessary'

9

Sidney once said: ‘History will define me as just a minor ingredient in a great unfolding event, a small energy if necessary’Credit: Getty

HER LAST PREGNANCY

1959: PORGY AND BESS

9

1959: PORGY AND BESSCredit: Rex
1965: A PATCH OF BLUE

9

1965: A PATCH OF BLUECredit: MGM
1967: IN THE HOT NIGHT

9

1967: IN THE HOT NIGHTCredit: Getty – Contributor
1967: TO SIR, WITH LOVE

9

1967: TO SIR, WITH LOVECredit: Alamy
1988: LITTLE NIKITA

9

1988: LITTLE NIKITACredit: Alamy
Sir Sidney Poitier dies aged 94: Lilies of the Field star, first black person to win a Best Actor Oscar dies

https://www.the-sun.com/news/4419012/sidney-poitier-dies-oscar/ Sidney Poitier, terrorized by the Klu Klux Klan and first black person to win an Oscar, dies at 94

DevanCole

Daily Nation Today is an automatic aggregator of the all world’s media. In each content, the hyperlink to the primary source is specified. All trademarks belong to their rightful owners, all materials to their authors. If you are the owner of the content and do not want us to publish your materials, please contact us by email – admin@dailynationtoday.com. The content will be deleted within 24 hours.

Related Articles

Back to top button