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Arts & Culture

Oscar winner and groundbreaking star Sidney Poitier dies

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NEW YORK (AP) — Sidney Poitier, the groundbreaking actor and enduring inspiration who transformed how Black people were portrayed on screen and became the first Black actor to win an Academy Award for best lead performance and the first to be a top box-office draw, has died. He was 94.

Few movie stars had such an influence both on and off the screen.

Before Poitier, the son of Bahaman tomato farmers, no Black actor had a sustained career as a lead performer or could get a film produced based on his own star power.

Before Poitier, few Black actors were permitted a break from the stereotypes of bug-eyed servants and grinning entertainers.

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  • Poitier was the first Black actor to win a Best Actor Oscar, for 1963's Lilies of the Field. His good looks and smooth, commanding presence made him an icon to generations of moviegoers.