Oscar winner and groundbreaking star Sidney Poitier dies

NEW YORK – Sidney Poitier, the trailblazing actor and enduring inspiration who changed the way black people are portrayed on screen, has passed away. He was 94.

Poitier, 1964 Oscar winner for “Lilies of the Field,” died Thursday in the Bahamas, said Eugene Torchon-Newry, acting director general of the Bahamas’ State Department.

Few movie stars, black or white, have had such an impact both on and off the screen. Before Poitier, the son of Bahamian tomato growers, no black actor had a sustainable career as a leading actor or was able to have a film produced based on his own star power. Before Poitier, few black actors were allowed to break away from the stereotypes of beetle-eyed servants and grinning entertainers. Before Poitier, Hollywood filmmakers rarely tried to tell the story of a black person.

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