The oldest living Oscar-winning Best Actor received a unique honor. Prime Minister Perry Christie officially renamed the Paradise Island Bridge as the Sir Sidney Poitier Bridge as part of next month’s 40th anniversary celebration of Bahamian Independence. Hundreds of spectators cheered as the 88-year old actor and Prime Minister arrived for the rechristening.
Though Poitier was born in Miami, he spent his childhood on Cat Island, a sparsely populated island in the central Bahamas; then a British colony. At age 10, he moved to Nassau with his family.
Sidney Poitier was the first male black actor to be nominated for a competitive Academy Award for The Defiant Ones in 1958. He won the Oscar for Best Actor for Lilies of the Field in 1963. Poitier’s breakout part was as a member of an incorrigible high school gang in the 1955 classic Blackboard Jungle. The African-American actor has actively sought non-stereotypical roles through most of his career, and he’s credited in altering the cinematic landscape for all minorities.
Sharing a dual-citizenship, in April 1997, Poitier was appointed Ambassador of the Bahamas to Japan, a position he currently holds. He’s also the Bahamian Ambassador to UNESCO. On August, 2009, Sidney Poitier was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest US civilian honor, by President Barack Obama.
The Paradise Island Bridge is the largest in the Bahamas. It connects the capital to the Atlantis resort, one of the region’s main tourist destinations.
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