Sidney Poitier: A Groundbreaking Career In Pictures

Hollywood and the nation are mourning a Hollywood pioneer today. Click on the photo above to launch a photo gallery on the career of Oscar winner Sidney Poitier, who died today at 94.

His 60-year résumé is filled with groundbreaking roles in singular movies. He played the Philadelphia homicide detective Virgil Tibbs investigating a murder in a Deep South town (In the Heat of the Night and its sequel), the doctor who gets engaged to a white woman and deals with uncertainly from both sets of parents (Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, which was Spencer Tracy’s last film) and a convict chained to a white fellow escapee (Tony Curtis) in The Defiant Ones.

Poitier was the first Black person to win an Oscar for acting (Lilies of the Field), the first whose character shared an onscreen interracial kiss in a major movie and the first whose character physically struck a white co-star onscreen. All were landmarks in movie history, and Poitier handled them with rare grace and regality.

Sidney Poitier Life Story Set To Become Broadway Play

A serious man and a serious actor, Poitier also was adept at comedy. To wit, his mid-’70s run of action-comedy crime capers with Black main casts: Uptown Saturday Night, Let’s Do It Again and A Piece of the Action — all of which he also directed.

Poitier also helmed 1972’s Buck and the Preachers — in which he starred with Harry Belafonte the Richard Pryor-Gene Wilder romp Stir Crazy and the Wilder-Gilda Radner action-comedy Hanky Panky, among others.

Check out the photos above for a look back at a career like no other.

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