Sidney Poitier: 50 years after the Oscar win, his legacy remains

Sidney Poitier: 50 years after winning the Oscar, his legacy remains

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(FOX 32's Jake Hamilton) (FOX 32's Jake Hamilton)
CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

This year marks the 50th anniversary of legendary actor Sidney Poitier winning an Academy Award for Best Actor. It was the first time an African American actor won an Oscar for a leading role.

Poitier's win was a monumental moment in history. In honor of Black History Month, Good Day Chicago took a look back at this incredible moment and the man who changed Hollywood forever.

We know the power of his work, the power of his voice and the power of his presence. But in the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium in 1964, Anne Bancroft showed America the power of his name.

Poitier was not the first African American actor to win an Academy Award. Hattie McDaniel won Best Supporting Actress for her role in "Gone with the Wind" in 1940 and James Baskett won an honorary Oscar for his role in "Song of the South" in 1948.

But Poitier's win for his powerful role in "Lilies of the Field" was different. It said that times were changing.

Acclaimed Chicago filmmaker Darryl Roberts told FOX 32 news that Poitier's lasting influence is about more than his films or his Oscar. It's about who he was as a man. Roberts said that even today, actors are reaping the benefits of the roads that the improbable pioneer paved.

While Good Day Chicago's Jake Hamilton never had the chance to interview him, his own connection to Sidney Poitier was sitting next to the great actor on a flight from Los Angeles to Houston. After promising not to annoy him, Hamilton just shook his hand and told him how much of an honor it was to just be in his presence.

With the calm and grace that one would expect from a legend, Poitier smiled and said, "It's a great pleasure to meet you, young man. If you'll excuse me, I think I'll take a nap now."

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