Sidney Poitier's family pay tribute to the late star

Sidney Poitier's family pay tribute to the late star

January 8, 2022

‘He spent his last day surrounded by family and friends’: Sidney Poitier’s family pay tribute to their ‘guiding light’ after his death aged 94: Denzel Washington thanks icon for ‘opening doors that had been closed’

  • Sidney Poitier’s family paid tribute to the late actor who died inside his LA home on Thursday night at age 94
  • The Hollywood icon, who became the first black man to win an Oscar for best actor, was described as a ‘guiding light’ who lit up everyone’s lives
  • His six daughters said his legacy would continue to inspire others as they remember his infectious smile and laughter
  • Denzel Washington was the latest celebrity to pay tribute to Poitier, who he credited for breaking racial barriers for black actors in Hollywood
  • ‘He was a gentle man and opened doors for all of us that had been closed for years,’ Washington said of the man who he dedicated his 2002 victory speech to

The family of Hollywood trailblazer Sidney Poitier paid tribute to the late star, calling him a ‘guiding light’ for their family as Denzel Washington and other actors also cited the Oscar winner as a source of inspiration.

In a statement about Poitier, who died on Thursday night in his Los Angeles home at age 94, his children said they were ‘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,’ the statement read.  

‘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.’ 

The family of the late  Sidney Poitier (pictured during his birthday in 2019) said they were mourning the loss of the Hollywood trailblazer who served as a ‘guiding light’


In the last known photo of him, Poitier is seen left in February 2021 celebrating his 94th birthday with his daughter. Right, he is at his 92nd birthday in 2019

Poitier died at 94 inside his Los Angeles  home on Thursday night. His pictured with daughters Anika and Sydney in 2016

Poitner, the first black man to win an Oscar for best actor, is picture with (L-R) daughter Anikia, wife Joanna Shimkus and daughters Sydney

Sidney Poitier was survived by his wife, six daughters, eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. He is pictured at the 2014 Vanity Fair Oscars Party with one of his daughters 

The family added that they were currently experiencing a ‘deep sense of loss and sadness’ over Poitier’s passing, which was confirmed by the Bahama’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Fred Mitchell, on Friday morning. The cause of death is not yet known. 

Poitier is survived by his wife, Joanna Shimkus, six daughters, eight grand children and a handful of great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his daughter, Gina, who died in 2018. 

‘Although he is no longer here with us in this realm, his beautiful soul will continue to guide and inspire us,’ his family said.  

‘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,’ the statement concludes.


Sidney Poitier was married to Joanna Shimkus, who he had six daughters with

Poitner is picture with (L-R) daughters Anikia and Sydney and wife Joanna Shimkus during the 12th annnual Carousel of Hope Ball in Beverley Hills in 2000

The family attended the event again in 2004 as Poitier stayed close with his children

His daughters said the late actor would remain as a constant source of inspiration for their family and others. Members of the Poitier family are pictured in 1982 at their NYC home


Sidney Poitier’s daughter, Ainika, shared photos of her dad raising her and her sister, Sidney

Sidney Poitier and his six daughters in an undated photo from Arizona State University

Washington was also the latest in A-List stars to pay tribute to the late actor, who was the first black man to win a best actor Oscar in 1964, paving the way for Washington to nab his own Oscar in 2002.

‘It was a privilege to call Sidney Poitier my friend. He was a gentle man and opened doors for all of us that had been closed for years. God bless him and his family.’ 

During his historic 2002 win, Washington dedicated the opening of his speech to Poitier, who he said guided his career as an actor. 

‘Forty years I’ve been chasing Sidney [Poitier], they finally give it to me, what’d they do? They give it to him the same night,’ he joked. 

‘I’ll always be chasing you, Sidney. I’ll always be following in your footsteps. There’s nothing I would rather do, sir. Nothing I would rather do. God bless you.’ 

Among the many awards and recognition Poitier received throughout his lifetime, he was granted the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in 2009. 

Denzel Washington (left) paid tribute to Poitier, who paved the way for his 2002 Oscar win. Washington was second black man to win the award for best actor since Poitier in 1964

Poitier broke racial barriers in 1964 when he took home the best actor Oscar for his leading role in the 1964 film, Lillie’s of the Field  

Actor Sidney Poitier receives the Presidential Medal of Freedom from U.S. President Barack Obama during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in 2009

Halle Berry, Whoopi Goldberg, Viola Davis, Jeffrey Wright, Anika Noni Rose and many more lead tributes on Friday. 

Berry, 55, was the first black actress to win the best actress Oscar in 2002 as she posted a touching tribute to the star on Instagram with a snap of the talented thespians together.

She wrote: ”A tiny bit of myself is lost when my friends are gone,’ Sidney Poitier wrote in his book LIFE BEYOND MEASURE. My dear Sidney, an enormous part of my soul weeps at your passing. 

‘In your ninety-four years on this planet, you left an indelible mark with your extraordinary talent, paving the way for Black people to be seen and heard in the fullness of who we are. You were an iconic trailblazer; yours was a life well lived.’

Berry continued by talking about growing up admiring him and what a thrill it was when they finally met.  

‘You are and always will be the true measure of a man’: Berry, 55, was the first black actress to win the best actress Oscar in 2002 as she posted a touching tribute to the star on Instagram with a snap of the talented thespians together

She wrote: ‘I grew up idolizing you and will always remember the day when I first met you. It is the only time in my life when I’ve been rendered speechless! There I sat, with my words glued together, and you were as gracious and charming then as you would be during our decades of friendship to follow.

‘Rest in peace, beloved Sidney. You are and always will be the true measure of a man.’

Golden Globe and Emmy-winning actor Jeffrey Wright was one of the first stars to react, tweeting: ‘Sidney Poitier. What a landmark actor. One of a kind. What a beautiful, gracious, warm, genuinely regal man. RIP, Sir. With love.’ 

Oscar-winner Whoopi Goldberg tweeted a touching message, reciting the lyrics to the theme song from Poitier’s 1967 film To Sir, with Love.

‘If you wanted the sky I would write across the sky in letters that would soar a thousand feet high.. To Sir… with Love,’ she wrote, adding: ‘Sir Sidney Poitier R.I.P. He showed us how to reach for the stars.’

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