Sidney Poitier, whose elegant bearing and principled onscreen characters made him Hollywood's first Black movie star and the first Black man to win the best actor Oscar, has died. He was 94.
Many of his best-known films explored racial tensions as Americans were grappling with social changes wrought by the civil rights movement. In 1967 alone, he appeared as a Philadelphia detective fighting bigotry in small-town Mississippi in "In the Heat of the Night" and a doctor who wins over his White fiancée's skeptical parents in "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner."
In 2009, President Obama awarded Poitier the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor, saying, "It's been said that Sidney Poitier does not make movies, he makes milestones ... milestones of artistic excellence, milestones of America's progress."