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Poitier, the first black man to win a best actor Oscar, died in the Bahamas on Thursday, aged 94. His films included Blackboard Jungle, To Sir With Love, In The Heat Of The Night and GuessWho’s Coming To Dinner.
As tributes poured in, his family said his loss had left “a giant hole in our hearts”.
They said yesterday: “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.
“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.” They added: “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.”
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Hollywood stars including Halle Berry and Whoopi Goldberg paid tribute to Poitier. US President Joe Biden lamented the loss of the “oncein-a-generation” actor who helped “open the hearts of millions”.
Born in Miami, Poitier grew up on a tomato farm in the Bahamas and moved to New York at 16.
He signed up for a short stint in the US Army and did odd jobs while he took acting lessons.
Poitier had four daughters with first wife Juanita Hardy, and two with his second wife, actress Joanna Shimkus.
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