To commemorate the life of prolific actor, director, and cultural icon Sidney Poitier (1927-2022), who died of heart failure at his Beverly Hills home on Thursday, January 6, at the age 94, the Broadway League has announced that the Committee of Theatre Owners will dim the lights of their Broadway theaters for one minute, at exactly 7:45 pm, on Wednesday, January 19.
Poitier’s long and storied career in the entertainment industry included many trailblazing and culturally significant roles on the stage and screen, including becoming the first Black man to win the Academy Award for Best Actor in 1963, for his role in Lilies of the Field.
After training with the American Negro Theatre, he made his Broadway debut 75 years ago, in 1946, in a short-lived all-Black revival of Lysistrata, and in the following year (September 22-October 18, 1947), he appeared in the play Anna Lucasta. Poitier later went on to create the iconic role of Walter Lee Younger in Lorraine Hansberry’s groundbreaking play A Raisin in the Sun, for which he earned a 1960 Tony Award nomination as Best Actor in a Play. He reprised his searing portrayal of the play’s proud and ambitious central character in the hit 1961 film adaptation, further cementing the character and the play’s prominent places in the American theatrical canon. In 1968, Poitier returned to Broadway to direct Carry Me Back to Morningside Heights, featuring Louis Gossett Jr., Diane Ladd, and Cicely Tyson.
“Although Sidney Poitier’s brilliance shone on Broadway stages as a performer and director in just a small number of productions, his presence on Broadway was both titanic and influential,” said Charlotte St. Martin, President of The Broadway League. “I know that Broadway fans worldwide recognize the incredible impact Mr. Poitier had on our art form. He is a true icon and an inspiration to so very many.”