Sidney Poitier died of heart failure, dementia and prostate cancer, death certificate says

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Frazer Harrison

Sidney Poitier, the renowned actor, director and activist, died of a combination of heart failure, Alzheimer’s dementia and prostate cancer, according to his death certificate.

Poitier died in Beverly Hills on Jan. 6. He was 94.

The certificate, issued by Los Angeles County, noted that Poitier’s career as an actor spanned 76 years.

Poitier is revered as one of the greatest performers in American history, making his mark as the first Black man to win an Academy Award for best actor.

At the zenith of his career, he was among the biggest draws to get an audience to the movie theater.

His first notable performing role was in 1946, when he made his Broadway debut in “Lysistrata.”

His feature film debut came in 1950 with the film noir “No Way Out.”

The actor starred in a string of landmark films in the 1960s, including “Lilies of the Field,” “A Patch of Blue,” “To Sir, With Love,” “In the Heat of the Night” and “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.”

His performance in “Lilies of the Field” earned him the groundbreaking Oscar, and he would remain the only Black man to win an Oscar until Denzel Washington in 2002.

In addition to his Academy Award, Poitier was lauded with numerous accolades, including a Kennedy Center Honors in 1995, the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009, two Golden Globe awards (including a lifetime achievement honor in 1982), and a Grammy for narrating his autobiography, “The Measure of a Man: A Spiritual Autobiography,” published in 2000.

That same year, Poitier received an honorary Oscar “in recognition of his remarkable accomplishments as an artist and as a human.”

Poitier retired from screen acting in 2000 and went on to pen numerous books, in addition to his autobiography, he also wrote “Life Beyond Measure: Letters to My Great-Granddaughter,” in 2008; and a novel, “Montaro Caine,” in 2013.

He also served as the Bahamian ambassador to Japan from 1997 to 2007.

Poitier is survived by his wife, Joanna Shimkus, a retired actress from Canada; and five daughters: two — Anika and Sydney Tamiaa — with Shimkus; and three — Beverly, Pamela, and Sherri — with his first wife, Juanita Hardy. His daughter Gina died in 2018.

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