Oscar Winner And Groundbreaking Star Sidney Poitier Dies

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FILE – Actor Sidney Poitier poses for a portrait in Beverly Hills, Calif. on June 2, 2008. Poitier, the groundbreaking actor and enduring inspiration who transformed how Black people were portrayed on screen, became the first Black actor to win an Academy Award for best lead performance and the first to be a top box-office draw, died Thursday, Jan. 6, 2022 in the Bahamas. He was 94. (AP Photo/Matt Sayles, File)

NEW YORK — Sidney Poitier, the groundbreaking actor and enduring inspiration who transformed how Black people were portrayed on screen, became the first Black actor to win an Academy Award for best lead performance and the first to be a top box-office draw, has died.

He was 94.

Few movie stars had such an influence both on and off the screen.

Before Poitier, the son of Bahaman tomato farmers, no Black actor had a sustained career as a lead performer or could get a film produced based on his own star power.

Before Poitier, few Black actors were permitted a break from the stereotypes of bug-eyed servants and grinning entertainers.