Sidney Poitier's Death Mourned by Obama, Biden, Oprah Winfrey, Halle Berry and More

Public figures and Hollywood actors alike pay tribute to the trailblazer actor, who became the first black performer to win an Oscar in the best-actor category through his role in 1963's film 'Lilies of the Field'.

AceShowbiz - America mourns the death of legendary actor Sidney Poitier. The Bahamian-American actor, who paved the way for black performers in film, died at his home in Los Angeles on Thursday, January 6 at 94 years old.

Tributes have since poured in from fellow actors as well as other notable public figures like President Joe Biden, who said in a statement released by the White House that Poitier "was more than just one of the finest actors in our history. … With unflinching grandeur and poise - his singular warmth, depth, and stature on-screen - Sidney helped open the hearts of millions and changed the way America saw itself." He added, "He blazed a path for our nation to follow, and a legacy that touches every part of our society today."

Barack Obama also paid tribute, calling him "a singular talent" who "epitomized dignity and grace." The former president tweeted, "Through his groundbreaking roles and singular talent, Sidney Poitier epitomized dignity and grace, revealing the power of movies to bring us closer together. He also opened doors for a generation of actors."

Former President Bill Clinton wrote that Poitier "changed Hollywood, America, & the world forever through his many unforgettable performances, & through the strength, grace, & dignity he radiated both on screen and off. I'll always be deeply grateful that I had the chance to spend time with him through the years."

Oprah Winfrey, who was very close to Poitier, wrote on Instagram, "My honor to have loved him as a mentor. Friend. Brother. Confidant. Wisdom Teacher. The utmost, highest regard and praise for his most magnificent, gracious, eloquent life."

Halle Berry posted on social media, "My dear Sidney, an enormous part of my soul weeps at your passing. In your ninety-four years on this planet, you left an indelible mark with your extraordinary talent, paving the way for Black people to be seen and heard in the fullness of who we are. You were an iconic trailblazer; yours was a life well lived."

Poitier's longtime friend Harry Belafonte said, "For over 80 years, Sidney and I laughed, cried and made as much mischief as we could. He was truly my brother and partner in trying to make this world a little better. He certainly made mine a whole lot better."

Meanwhile, Denzel Washington said in a statement to Deadline, "It was a privilege to call Sidney Poitier my friend. He was a gentle man and opened doors for all of us that had been closed for years. God bless him and his family."

Tyler Perry said his "heart broke in another place" over Poitier's death. He added, "The grace and class that this man has shown throughout his entire life, the example he set for me, not only as a black man but as a human being will never be forgotten."

Whoopi Goldberg quoted lyrics from "To Sir, With Love", the title song from Poitier's 1967 film. "If you wanted the sky i would write across the sky in letters that would soar a thousand feet high..To Sir…with Love," it read, "He showed us how to reach for the stars."

Poitier was the first black performer to win an Academy Award in the best-actor category through his role in 1963's film "Lilies of the Field". His death was confirmed by Eugene Torchon-Newry, acting director general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the Bahamas, where Poitier grew up. No cause of death was given.

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