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Industry Pays Tribute to Iconic Actor Sidney Poitier

Actor Sidney Poitier arrives at the 86th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center on March 2, 2014 in Hollywood, California.
(Image credit: Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)

Hollywood Friday paid tribute to iconic actor/director and civil rights activist Sidney Poitier, who died Thursday night at the age of 94. 

Poitier’s prolific movie career features such groundbreaking films as In The Heat of the Night, Raisin in the Sun, The Defiant Ones, To Sir, With Love and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner that helped paved the way for Black actors in the 1950s and 1960s. Poitier was the first Black man to win the Academy Award for best actor for his role in the 1963 film Lilies of the Field.

Poitier also directed several hit films, including Buck and the Preacher starring Harry Belafonte, Uptown Saturday Night with Bill Cosby and Stir Crazy with Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder. In 2009, Poitier was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama.

On TV, Poitier was nominated for Emmy Awards for his portrayals of Nelson Mandela in Showtime’s Mandela and De Klerk, and Thurgood Marshall in ABC’s Separate But Equal.

In tribute to Poitier, OWN on January 9 will present a day-long, Poitier programming tribute including re-airings of The Oprah Winfrey Show episodes in 2000 and 2007 and Oprah Winfrey Presents: Legends Who Paved the Way from 2015; and the 1967 film To Sir, With Love, said the network.

Weigel Broadcasting's retro services Movies! network and Decades network will feature Poitier-themed programming blocks over the next two months. Movies! will air Poitier’s first credited screen role in No Way Out on February 7, as well as three of his films -- No Way Out, Edge of the City and Blackboard Jungle on February 28, said network officials. 

Decades Network will air a 1972 episode of The Dick Cavett Show on January 10 featuring Poitier and Belafonte discussing their movie Buck and the Preacher, said the network.

Industry celebrities from Oprah Winfrey and Morgan Freeman as well as cable networks BET and TV One also paid tribute to Poitier on social media.

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