We have lost an icon, a hero, a mentor, a fighter and a national treasure, wrote Chester Cooper on his Facebook page about the actor without mentioning the cause of his death.
Sidney Poitier is the first black man to win the Oscar for Best Actor in 1964 for the film Lily of the fields (Lilies of the field).
It was a long journey to get there, he had launched, very moved, receiving the golden statuette. At 37, he was then the only color star in Hollywood.
He is not the first African-American artist to have won one. Actress Hattie Daniel won the Oscar for Best Actress in 1940 for Gone with the wind (Gone with the Wind).
American citizenship by chance
The actor was born prematurely in Miami, Florida on February 20, 1927, during a trip from his parents from the neighboring Bahamas.
Thanks to this premature birth, Sidney Poitier obtained American nationality. At 15, his parents were able to send him to Miami to his brother’s house to earn a living. He had never put on shoes other than in church then.
To escape Florida’s racist laws, he left for New York. His strong Caribbean accent led to him being turned down by the American Negro Theater. He worked to get rid of it.
Engaged in 1946 on Broadway, he was noticed by director Joseph Mankiewicz. In his first film, in 1950, The door opens (No Way Out), he played a doctor at the bedside of two white racists. The film, censored in the southern United States, launched his career.
Sidney Poitier, a criticized pioneer
Before him, Hollywood confined black actresses and actors to the roles of maids or butlers. Sidney Poitier had shattered these stereotypes by playing exemplary characters in the 1950s to 1970s, thus participating in the slow change in mentalities.
Thanks to his roles, the audience was able to conceive that African-American people could do different jobs. Besides a doctor, he interpreted an engineer and professor in Young wild beasts (To Sir, with Love), in 1967, or a policeman in the film In the heat of the Night (In the Heat of the Night), in 1967.
This Life. At the time,[…)] I endorsed 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. “,” text “:” The film industry was not yet ready to elevate more than one personality from minorities to the rank of star, he deciphered in his autobiography This Life. At the time,[…)] I endorsed 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. “}}”>The film industry was not yet ready to elevate more than one personality from minorities to the rank of star, he deciphered in his autobiography This Life. At the time, […] I endorsed 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 one of his best-known films, Guess who’s coming to dinner? (Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner), in 1967, he encamped the fiancé of a young white bourgeois presenting him to his parents, an intellectual couple who believed themselves to be open-minded. The meeting is a shock, and gives a major film on the racism of the time.
However, activists for the black cause criticized Sidney Poitier for having accepted this role of internationally renowned doctor, at odds with the discrimination suffered by black people at the time.
He was believed to have been referred to as the Black on duty, a fantasy of white people. His unreal qualities of ideal son-in-law masking his negritude and racist problems.
I happen to be one of the millions who loved this movie, he retorted in the New York Times in 1968.
The world needs every possible argument to show that man is more good than bad.
It was in 1967, the year of serious race riots, that the American Supreme Court recognized the legality of mixed marriage.
In the early 1970s, a new era for black cinema opened with the
Blaxploitation and his more radical films.
My career as a Hollywood star was coming to an end, analyzed the actor who was then dedicated to directing.
The first black comedy to achieve great popular success in the United States, Uptown Saturday Night recounts the setbacks of two friends (Sidney Poitier and Bill Cosby) who struggle to find a winning lotto ticket found in a wallet stolen the day before the draw in an armed robbery.
Sidney Poitier, also a director, excelled in this comic duo, the first swerve of black cinema towards the general public.
In this film, African-American people are no longer caricatured; they lead the comedy. After this success followed Let’s do it again in 1975 and A Piece of the Action in 1977. Will Smith acquired the rights to make another version with Denzel Washington, which is scheduled for 2022.
In 1997, he played Nelson Mandela and then the first black judge of the American Supreme Court, Thurgood Marshall.
Married 15 years (1950-1965) to the dancer Juanita Hardy, with whom he had four daughters, Sidney Poitier married in 1976 the Canadian actress Joanna Shimkus, who gave birth to two more daughters.
An Oscar honoring his career
In 2002 Sidney Poitier received an honorary Oscar for his extraordinary performances, his dignity, his style and his intelligence.
I accept this award on behalf of all African-American actresses and actors who have come before me […] and on whose shoulders I was able to lean to envision my future, replied the actor thanking
the visionary choices of a handful of producers, directors and studio directors.
That same evening, Denzel Washington became the second black man to receive the Oscar for best actor:
I will never reach your height and I will always follow my steps in yours. Halle Berry also won the statuette in the category of best actress.
In 2000, Sidney Poitier confided to Oprah Winfrey to have remained faithful to the principles of his father. Despite his great poverty, he was
worthy, although in all his life he had never made so much money than I was able to spend in a week.