HOLLYWOOD (CBSLA) — Groundbreaking actor Sidney Poitier has died, according to the deputy prime minister of the Bahamas. Poitier was 94 years old.
In a Facebook post, Bahamian Deputy Prime Minister Chester Cooper said he felt conflicted at hearing the news of Poitier’s passing.READ MORE: LA County Confirms More Than 28,000 COVID Deaths; Reports Highest Number of Daily New Deaths Since April 2021
“We have lost an icon; a hero, a mentor, a fighter, a national treasure,” Cooper wrote on Facebook. “I was conflicted with a great sadness and a sense of celebration when I learned of the passing of Sir Sindey [sic] Poitier. Sadness that he would no longer be here to tell him how much he means to us, but celebration that he did so much to show the world that those from the humblest beginnings can change the world and that we gave him his flowers while he was with us.”
He died at his home in Los Angeles on Friday morning, though a cause of death has not yet been announced.
Poitier was the first Black man to win an Oscar for Best Actor for his role in “Lilies of the Field” in 1963, and held that distinction until 2002. He was also the first Black man to kiss a white woman in a movie, which was 1965’s “A Patch of Blue.” Poitier was also known for his roles as Mark Thackeray in “To Sir With Love,” Detective Virgil Tibbs in “The Heat of the Night,” and as a socialite’s Black fiancé in “Guess Who’s Who’s Coming to Dinner.”
The legendary actor was Hollywood’s first Black movie star — and his legendary career blazed a trail that would be followed by actors like Denzel Washington, Samuel L. Jackson, and others who refused to let the color of their skin dictate the roles they took. In the 1970s, he started working behind the camera, splitting his time between directing and acting for the next three decades.READ MORE: Talk Radio Icon, Los Angeles Legend Michael Jackson Dies At 87
In 2002, he received an honorary Oscar for his life’s work. That same night, Washington became the second Black man to win an Oscar for Best Actor, and Halle Berry became the first Black woman to win an Oscar for Best Actress.
“I came here at a time when this Hollywood that you know was not the Hollywood here when I arrived,” Poitier said.
He went on to become to be a film director, activist and an ambassador, has been appointed an honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire, and has received a Kennedy Center honor. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom from then-President Obama in 2009.
Poitier had dual citizenship in the United States and the Bahamas, where he grew up the youngest of seven children, and went on to serve as the Bahamian ambassador to Japan from 1997 to 2007.
He is survived by his wife, Joanna, and six daughters.MORE NEWS: 'We're Paying The Price As Consumers,' Union Pacific Rep Says Of Increased Train Robberies In LA
This is a breaking news story. More information will be added as it comes in.