Sidney Poitier’s family released a poignant statement Friday night, remembering the screen legend as their “guiding light who lit up our lives with infinite love and wonder.”
“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,” the statement said.
Poitier, the pioneering actor and director who became the first bankable Black leading man in Hollywood, died Thursday at age 94. One of the world’s most celebrated actors, he broke multiple racial barriers in his decades-long career, including when he became the first Black performer to win the Best Actor Academy Award for his role in 1963’s “Lilies of the Field.” Thirty-nine years later, he accepted an Honorary Academy Award for his body of work.
In addition to his work in Hollywood, Poitier served as the Bahamas’ ambassador to Japan from 1997 to 2007 (he held dual citizenship with the U.S.). In 2009, he also accepted the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama.
You can read the statement in its entirety below:
“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. 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. 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.“