Throughout the week, we’ll be celebrating the 90th birthdays or both Sidney Poitier (February 20) and Harry Belafonte (March 1), recalling past work (especially their lesser known films) on this blog and on social media (see yesterday’s Porgy & Bess post and today’s “The Slender Thread” post).
It’s not entirely something to celebrate (given what had to happen that led to it), but it’s worth mentioning on his 90th birthday (which is today), and in light of the fact that the Oscars are this weekend, that, after the death of the great Ernest Borgnine in 2012, Sidney Poitier became the oldest Best Actor Academy Award winner alive. And he obviously still very much is!
Borgnine, who was 95 when he died, won his Best Actor Oscar in 1955 for his performance in the dramedy “Marty” – a film that did quite well at the Oscars that year, also winning the trophy for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay.
Poitier took home the Oscar for Best Actor in 1963 for his performance in the drama “Lilies of the Field.” A historic moment, it was also the first time a black man had won a competitive Academy Award.
The film was nominated in 4 other categories that year, but didn’t win in any of them.
Borgnine died of renal failure on Sunday, July 8, 2012 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in LA, with his family by his side.
If anything, consider this an encouragement to cherish these legends of cinema’s past while they’re still alive, as we lose each one of them it seems, with every passing year…
Happy 90th birthday Sir Sidney Poitier; in 1974 he was honored with the Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE), hence the “Sir.”
Below is the clip of Anne Bancroft presenting Sidney Poitier the Oscar for Best Actor for “Lilies of the Field” at the 36th Academy Awards: