Hollywood Reacts to the Passing of Sidney Poitier
Chris Rock and Sidney Poitier attends the 2012 Vanity Fair Oscar Party Hosted By Graydon Carter at Sunset Tower on February 26, 2012 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/VF12/WireImage)

The acting community is reeling from the news that the legendary actor of the stage and screen Sidney Poitier has passed away at the age of 94.

Poitier’s illustrious career and groundbreaking contributions to American film left an immense impact not only on decades of audiences but on generations of fellow actors. Many stars of the big screen took to social media to pay final respects and tell the world what his work, and his life, meant to them.

Harry Belafonte, a legendary actor in his own right who starred alongside Poitier in classic films Buck and the Preacher and Uptown Saturday Night, shared a personal statement on the passing of his friend and colleague.

“For over 80 years, Sidney and I laughed, cried, and made as much mischief as we could,” he wrote. “He was truly my brother and partner in trying to make this world a little better. He certainly made mine a whole lot better.”

Denzel Washington, who famously honored his good friend and mentor Sidney when he accepted the Oscar for Best Actor in 2002, remembered the actor fondly in a statement given via The Hollywood Reporter.

“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.”

Oprah Winfrey honored and heralded Poitier throughout the course of his life. Naturally, she gave a beautifully heartfelt statement upon hearing the news of his passing.

“For me, the greatest of the ‘Great Trees’ has fallen: Sidney Poitier. My honor to have loved him as a mentor. Friend. Brother. Confidant. Wisdom teacher,” she wrote. “The utmost, highest regard and praise for his most magnificent, gracious, eloquent life. I treasured him. I adored him. He had an enormous soul I will forever cherish. Blessings to Joanna and his world of beautiful daughters.” 

On Chris Rock’s Instagram page, the comedy great posted a series of IG stories featuring clips of Sidney Poitier most iconic film scenes.

Tyler Perry wrote a lengthy heartfelt tribute to Sidney via his Instagram account.

“The grace and class that this man has shown throughout his entire life, the example he set for me, not only as a black man but as a human being will never be forgotten.” Perry wrote of the actor’s impact. “There is no man in this business who has been more of a North Star for me than Sidney Poitier.”

Fellow Academy Award-winner Viola Davis honored Poitier as an inspiration to her own life and illustrious career.

“No words can describe how your work radically shifted my life,” she wrote via Instagram, even sharing a quote he shared with her directly over lunch on one occasion: “If your dreams do not scare you, they’re not big enough.”

Whoopi Goldberg quoted the famed song “To Sir With Love,” a nod to one of Poitiers most beloved roles in the film of the same name via Twitter. “He showed us how to reach for the stars,” she mused.

Actor Blair Underwood returned to social media after a lengthy absence specifically to pay tribute to the late legend, who was a personal mentor.

“You once said that you expect twice as much from me than you did from yourself, I’ll be chasing that for the rest of my days. Hoping to make you proud.”

“Indeed, what a beautiful life you have lived & legacy to behold. Now, may you rest in eternal peace kind & gracious Sir!”

Debbie Allen Tweeted a message of hope that his legacy carried on to future generations.

“Sidney Poitier, your last sunset with us is the dawn of many generations rising in the path of light you blazed,” she wrote.

Actor Jeffrey Wright conjured up memories of To Sir, With Love as well, calling Poitier a “landmark actor” and a “genuinely regal man” while sharing a photo of him in his younger days.

Sterling K. Brown used his platform to thank the actor for sharing his skill and talent with the world, and for providing actors such as himself with a guiding inspiration by which to model their own careers.

“You made the road easier for all who came after you,” he wrote. “We are your legacy, and we hope to do you proud.”

Tracee Ellis Ross added her own tribute via Instagram, calling the actor “a giant among us and a beacon of possibility for us.”

“Rest well, Mr. Poitier,” she wrote. “May your legacy live on for generations and generations.”

Questlove heralded Poitier as “one of the greatest actors of his generation” and noted the bonding effect his films had among him and his family.

“Mama” Tina Knowles-Lawson recalled the several opportunities she had to meet and speak with Poitier, marking him as “A true class act! A trailblazer for black leading men…”

Coleman Domingo honored Poitier as being his mentor without even knowing it. “When I saw him, I saw the artist that I could be,” he wrote. “Today let us give a standing ovation to Mr. Poitier for this life well lived. May we all hope to enjoy such a legacy.”

Actor Wendell Pierce shared a quote from Arthur Miller that eloquently summed up the lasting legacy and influence a performer of Poitier’s caliber leaves behind.

There is a certain immortality involved in theater, not created by monuments and books, but through the knowledge an actor keeps to his dying day that on a certain afternoon, in an empty and dusty theater, he cast the shadow of a being that was not himself but the distillation of all that he had ever observed; all the unsingable heart song the ordinary man may feel but never utter, he gave voice to. And by that somehow joins the ages.”


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