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Then-U.S. President Barack Obama presents the Medal of Freedom to Sidney Poitier during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington in 2009.Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Tributes to Sidney Poitier poured in from Hollywood and around the world following the death Thursday of the groundbreaking actor and cultural icon. Poitier, who was the first Black actor to win an Academy Award for best lead performance and the first to be a top box-office draw, was 94.


“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. ... All I can say is thank you for your life, thank you for your example, and thank you for your incredible gift. But most of all, thank you for being willing to share YOU to make us all better.”

– Actor and director Tyler Perry, on Facebook

“This is a big one. No words can describe how your work radically shifted my life. The dignity, normalcy, strength, excellence and sheer electricity you brought to your roles showed us that we, as Black folks, mattered!!! It was an honor...”

– Actor Viola Davis, on Instagram

“If you wanted the sky I would write across the sky in letters that would soar a thousand feet high.: To Sir with Love. Sir Sidney Poitier R.I.P. He showed us how to reach for the stars.”

– Actor and TV personality Whoopi Goldberg, on Twitter

“Sidney Poitier, your last sunset with us is the dawn of many generations rising in the path of light you blazed. We will always hold you in our hearts and forever speak your name.”

– Actor and director Debbie Allen, on Twitter

“One of the greatest actors of his generation. We all have our Poitier era. Growing up in the ‘70s I’d have to say that maybe `Uptown Saturday Night’ was the first movie I ever watched. ... Rest in peace. And thank you.”

– Musician Questlove, on Instagram

“The star of `Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner’ and `Lilies of the Field,’ for which he won Best Actor, was a trailblazer who will be mourned by so many for whom he opened the very doors of Hollywood.”

– Actor George Takei, on Twitter

“Sir #SidneyPoitier, your brilliant light will never dim. The doors you opened and paths you created will continue to make way for those with a dream. You showed the world that with vision and grace, all is possible.”

– Musician Lenny Kravitz, on Twitter

“Sidney Poitier is quite literally the reason why I wanted to become an artist. ... There are very few people that I quake in the presence of. Rest easy, GOAT. “

– TV actor Keith Powell, on Twitter

Sidney Poitier, the groundbreaking actor who transformed how Black people were portrayed on screen, has died at 94.

The Associated Press