Sidney Poitier, who died Thursday at 94, was truly beloved by the entertainment industry ... and beyond.
For proof, look no further than the countless tributes that poured in within hours of the news.
Academy Award winners, such as Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Whoopi Goldberg and Denzel Washington, wrote about the barriers he'd broken, like in 1964, when he was the first Black man to win the Oscar for Best Actor, for his work in the dramedy Lilies of the Field.
"This is a big one," wrote Davis, who won her own Oscar in 2017 for her turn in Fences. "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."
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... https://t.co/xaPAjAlRtR pic.twitter.com/aqOmRqq7SN
— Viola Davis (@violadavis) January 7, 2022
Spencer recalled having met the late actor and civil rights activist. Although she was the one who had just won an award, she said that she was "shell shocked and sweaty," so flustered at the sight of the In the Heat of the Night star that she couldn't think of anything to say. When she was finally able to say what she was thinking — "I love you" — he responded kindly.
"He told me he expected great things for me," Spencer wrote. "There's something about hearing those words from a pioneer that changes you!"
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
— Whoopi Goldberg (@WhoopiGoldberg) January 7, 2022
My condolences to his family and to all of us as well
— Whoopi Goldberg (@WhoopiGoldberg) January 7, 2022
Acclaimed actor Don Cheadle gave an emotional statement to Yahoo Entertainment.
"Gutted. again. Lost another royal. Sir Poitier had no peer, and we'll never see his like again. He was the standard bearer for generations of actors/directors who came after him," Cheadle said. "The last time I saw Sidney was at a golf course in LA. I saw him across the room and walked toward him with my hand out to shake his. Ignoring my hand, he opened both of his arms wide and embraced me warmly. Then he let me go and held me at arm's length staring me in my eyes and said in his signature cadence, 'I dig what you do, my man.' I almost fainted. He told me to keep it up and keep representing us. I told him I would do my best and that he was irreplaceable. We were so blessed to have him for as long as we did, and he will be sorely and surely missed."
Washington provided his statement to The Daily Beast:
"It was a privilege to call Sidney Poitier my friend," Washington said. "He was a gentle man and opened doors for all of us that had been closed for years. God bless him and his family."
And the tributes didn't stop, praising Poitier personally and professionally.
As Kerry Washington wrote, "We lost an elegant King today. Thank you Sidney Poitier. For not only opening the door, but for walking in this world with endless grace and excellence, so that today, still, we follow behind you, reaching toward the example that you set."
We lost an elegant King today. Thank you Sidney Poitier. For not only opening the door, but for walking in this world with endless grace and excellence, so that today, still, we follow behind you, reaching toward the example that you set. Rest In Peace and in Power. We love you. pic.twitter.com/CP2ga9KiHu
— kerry washington (@kerrywashington) January 7, 2022
Here are just some of the others:
Sidney was my inspiration, my guiding light, my friend. Sending love to Joanna and his family. pic.twitter.com/0UzVIyeJZV
— Morgan Freeman (@morgan_freeman) January 7, 2022
Through his groundbreaking roles and singular talent, Sidney Poitier epitomized dignity and grace, revealing the power of movies to bring us closer together. He also opened doors for a generation of actors. Michelle and I send our love to his family and legion of fans. pic.twitter.com/zkYKFSxfKA
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) January 7, 2022
Until I can properly eulogize him later. Heart broken. I am because of him. He blazed a tremendous path for thespians such as me. I am forever grateful. Standing O for this giant. pic.twitter.com/B6ZgNZF8MG
— Colman Domingo (@colmandomingo) January 7, 2022
Sidney Poitier. What a landmark actor. One of a kind. What a beautiful, gracious, warm, genuinely regal man. RIP, Sir. With love.
(📷Sam Falk/NYT) pic.twitter.com/5ZaKxxPdxw
— Jeffrey Wright (@jfreewright) January 7, 2022
Mr. P was everything to me! My North Star and guiding light. The very personification of elegance, eloquence, effortless grace and humanity, I have admired and emulated him my entire life. Without Sidney Poitier, quite simply, there would be no LeVar Burton.#RIP#OG#MrP
— LeVar Burton (@levarburton) January 7, 2022
Today we lost a legend. I was lucky enough to spend some time with Sidney Poitier. As a long time fan, I cherished hearing his incredible stories of how he changed perceptions in Hollywood. His incredible performances are filled with dignity, strength, truth and deep humanity. pic.twitter.com/OnqH2gGg9f
— Reese Witherspoon (@ReeseW) January 7, 2022
“There is a certain immortality involved in theater, not created by monuments and books, but through the knowledge an actor keeps to his dying day that on a certain afternoon, in an empty and dusty theater, he cast the shadow of a being that was not himself……..” pic.twitter.com/lVsvO5t3CJ
— Wendell Pierce (@WendellPierce) January 7, 2022
“I'm on the porch of our little home on Cat Island in the Bahamas. Evening turns the sky a bright burnt orange. My mother and father fan the smoke from green palm leaves. My sister Teddy takes me in her arms to rock me to sleep.”
Rest in triumph, Mr. Poitier. Thank you forever. pic.twitter.com/j29bDNEqVl
— Ava DuVernay (@ava) January 7, 2022
He once caught me following him. He said “little girl what do you want” I muttered “can I have your autograph”. From that day he always called me little girl and asked if I wanted his autograph. It was something we laughed about. He was my hero & great friend. May he RIP ❤️. https://t.co/yQhuiDCZse
— Dionne Warwick (@dionnewarwick) January 7, 2022
— Valerie Jarrett (@ValerieJarrett) January 7, 2022
Rest in power beautiful human being and actor Sir Sydney Poitier
— ✌🏼rosanna arquette (@RoArquette) January 7, 2022
#SidneyPoitier, 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. 🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼❤️❤️❤️ pic.twitter.com/hIKYCqM245
— Debbie Allen (@msdebbieallen) January 7, 2022
You paved the way for so many of us. Rest in Power Dear Sir. 🙏🏾🙏🏾 https://t.co/V7Tp0SaX2c
— Audra McDonald (@AudraEqualityMc) January 7, 2022
You were an incredibly beautiful, kind soul who changed the lives of so many, and a hero to all. The world was a much better place because you were in it, and we will miss you. RIP dear #SidneyPoitier 🙏🏻💔
— Billy Dee Williams (@realbdw) January 7, 2022
— Robert Iger (@RobertIger) January 7, 2022
Many of us owe a debt to Sidney Poitier that we can never repay. He single-handedly changed the face of the Leading Man. I had the honor to thank him in person and, in his kindness and grace, he said, “You’re a leading man, Lou, because you’re a good actor.” #RIPSidneyPoitier
— Lou Diamond Phillips (@LouDPhillips) January 7, 2022
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.
📸: Mathieu Bitton pic.twitter.com/Y0agy7P7Gg
— Lenny Kravitz (@LennyKravitz) January 7, 2022
Sidney Poitier was a unique man. An award-winning actor, a mentor, and someone who moved through life with elegance and class. I was honored to know him and his wife Joanna and to watch him move through his life. https://t.co/LYG0WWYBsB
— Maria Shriver (@mariashriver) January 7, 2022
Poor People's Campaign, Resurrection City, Washington, D.C., May 1968
Powerful beyond the stage and screen. pic.twitter.com/hEKRxGvoM2
— Be A King (@BerniceKing) January 7, 2022
Sidney Poitier, the first Black man to win an Oscar, has died at the age of 94. 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.
— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) January 7, 2022
Sidney Poitier was full of grace in every aspect of his life .. He opened doors with a BOOM that came from his gentle soul RIP ..
— Henry Winkler (@hwinkler4real) January 7, 2022
I once had the honor to shake Sidney Poitier’s hand. May he Rest in Power knowing he was loved and trailblazer in our industry who lit up the screen with his talent. 🙏 pic.twitter.com/LZixjXUAJW
— Cary Elwes (@Cary_Elwes) January 7, 2022