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Sidney Poitier’s family remembered the Hollywood giant as a humanitarian, a leader and a devoted artist in a statement issued Friday evening, a day after his death at the age of 94.
The actor, who became the first Black person to win the Oscar for lead actor with 1963’s “Lilies of the Field,” died at his home in Los Angeles on Jan. 6. Poitier was Hollywood’s first major Black box office star, constantly blazing trails with film roles such as Dr. John Wade Prentice in “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” and Mark Thackeray in “To Sir, With Love,” as well as with his activism in the heart of the Civil Rights era. Along with many prominent Hollywood figures, his family reflected on his legacy of art and compassion.
“There are no words to convey the deep sense of loss and sadness we are feeling right now. We are so grateful he was able to spend his last day surrounded by his family and friends,” the statement reads. “To us Sidney Poitier was not only a brilliant actor, activist and a man of incredible grace and moral fortitude, he was also a devoted and loving husband, a supportive and adoring father and a man who always put family first. He is our guiding light who lit up our lives with infinite love and wonder. His smile was healing, his hugs the warmest refuge and his laughter was infectious. We could always turn to him for wisdom and solace and his absence feels like a giant hole in our family and our hearts. Although he is no longer here with us in this realm, his beautiful soul will continue to guide and inspire us. He will live on in us, his grandchildren and great-grandchildren — in every belly laugh, every curious inquiry, every act of compassion and kindness. His legacy will live on in the world, continuing to inspire not only with his incredible body of work, but even more so with his humanity.”
“We would like to extend our deepest appreciation to every single one of you for the outpouring of love from around the world,” the family continued. “So many have been touched by our dad’s extraordinary life, his unwavering sense of decency and respect for his fellow man. His faith in humanity never faltered, so know that for all the love you’ve shown him, he loved you back.”