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Celebrity tributes pour in for Black acting pioneer Sidney Poitier after death at 94

He broke down racial barriers

sidney poitier dead
Hannah Hargrave
US Deputy Editor
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Sidney Poitier has died at the age of 94 and tributes are pouring in for the first Black man to win a Best Actor Oscar. 

The Bahamian-American actor who became a Hollywood Pioneer died on Friday at the age of 94.

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The Bahamian foreign minister announced his passing as people around the world paid tribute to the man who broke down racial barriers. 

Sidney - who once turned down the role of Othello because he didn't want to be typecast as a black actor - was the oldest living man to have won an Academy Award for Best Actor. 

sidney poitier© Photo: Getty Images

Sidney was a black a Black pioneer and broke down racial barriers

Viola Davis led with a lengthy tribute which read: "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!!" she wrote.

"It was an honor [sic] for my husband and I to share lunch with you at Spagos. You told us, 'If your dreams do not scare you, they're not big enough'

"I put this quote on my daughter's wall. Rest well Mr. Poitier. Thank you! Thank you for leaving a legacy. May flights of angels sing thee to thy rest."

Oprah Winfrey was incredibly saddened by the news and wrote an articulate Instagram message alongside a photo of her with Sidney. 

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Oprah said she loved him as a mentor, friend, brother and confidant 

"For me, the greatest of the 'Great Trees' has fallen: Sidney Poitier,"  Oprah penned. "My honor to have loved him as a mentor. Friend. Brother. Confidant. Wisdom teacher. The utmost, highest regard and praise for his most magnificent, gracious, eloquent life. I treasured him. I adored him. He had an enormous soul I will forever cherish. Blessings to Joanna and his world of beautiful daughters

Whoopi Goldberg also took to social media to pay her respects. "If you wanted the sky i would write across the sky in letters that would soar a thousand feet high," the Sister Act star wrote.

"To Sir... with Love. Sir Sidney Poitier R.I.P. He showed us how to reach for the stars. "My condolences to his family and to all of us as well."

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Whoopi paid her respects 

Loki actor Mark Ruffalo said: "Immediately dispelling the perverted, obscene, and misinformed notion of white supremacy in every beautifully human, artistic and dignified way = Sidney Poitier."

Tyler Perry said his "heart broke," after hearing the news and penned a beautiful tribute too: "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," the actor and director wrote.

"There is no man in this business who has been more of a North Star for me than Sidney Poitier. I'll never forget inviting him and Cicely [Tyson] to fly to South Africa with me.

"Selfishly, I wanted to hold them both captive for the hours long trip as I literally sat at their feet and listened to their wisdom and experiences. It was life changing."

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