Barack Obama pays tribute to ‘pioneer’ actor Sidney Poitier

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Arack Obama and Oprah Winfrey have paid tribute to Hollywood star Sidney Poitier after he died at the age of 94.

Bahamian-American actor best known for films including In the Heat of the Night, Blackboard Jungle and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner – and was the first black person to win a Best Actor Oscar.

Former US President Mr. Obama shared a photo of himself and his wife, Michelle, standing by Poitier after the honored actor was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009.

Mr Obama wrote: “Through her phenomenal roles and prodigious talent, Sidney Poitier embodies dignity and grace, revealing the power of films to bring us together.

“He also opened doors for a generation of actors.

“Michelle and I send our love to his family and fans.”

US talk show host Winfrey posted a photo of the couple happily embracing and added an emotional message, saying: “For me, the biggest fall of ‘Great Trees’ has come: Sidney Poitier.

“It is my honor to love him as a mentor. Friend. Brother. Confidant. Wisdom teacher.

“The utmost, highest regard and admiration for his most splendid, gracious, eloquent life.

“I treasured her. I adored her. She had a huge soul that I will always cherish. Bless the world to Joanna and her beautiful daughters.”

Former tennis world number one and equality activist Billie Jean King reflected on the extraordinary achievements of her career in a post on Twitter, saying: “He was a pioneer in acting and directing and paved the way for many to follow. rest in peace. ,

Actress Reese Witherspoon posted a photo of herself and Poitier on Twitter, saying: “Today we lost a legend. I was lucky enough to spend some time with Sidney Poitier.

“As a longtime fan, I love hearing his incredible stories about how he changed perceptions in Hollywood.

“Their incredible performances are filled with dignity, power, truth and deep humanity.”

Singing legend Diana Ross also offered her condolences to Poitier’s family and shared a black and white photo of her and the actor, saying: “A wonderful, great man, will always be missed.”

Filmmaker and actor Rob Reiner said on Twitter: “To be in the presence of Sydney Poitier was to be in the presence of grace, dignity and humanity. And quite a great actor too. Tearing”

Fellow film director William Friedkin said: “I have lost a dear friend and America has lost one of its greatest actors, Sidney Poitier.”

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