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Sidney Poitier Made Oscar History Today… Black Actors & The Best Actor Academy Award

by Tambay A. Obenson
April 13, 2013 10:57 AM
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Today in history, April 13th, 1964... Sidney Poitier became the first black performer in a leading role to win an Oscar for his role in Lilies Of The Field

He also holds the record for the the youngest black actor to win the Best Actor Oscar, at age 37. 

This would be Poitier's second nomination for the award; the first being for his performance in The Defiant Ones, 5 years earlier.

It would take another looooong 38 years before another black actor would win the Best Actor Oscar - Denzel Washington, in 2001, for his performance in Training Day. And coincidentally, that win made Denzel the oldest black actor to win the Best Actor Oscar, at 47 years old. That was in 2002. 

Since then, 2 black actors have won the Best Actor Oscar - Jamie Foxx for his performance in Ray in 2005, and Forest Whitaker for his role as Idi Amin in The Last King Of Scotland in 2007. 

In total, black actors have been nominated 19 times for the Best Actor award, and won on just 4 occasions, all listed above. 

Denzel has the most Best Actor nominations with 4, followed by Morgan Freeman with 3; though Morgan's never won it! 

Given this year's lineup of black actors in potential Oscar-contender leading roles, next year, we might see as many as 3 black actors nominated for the Best Actor Academy Award, which would set a record if that happened.

It'll mark the 8th year since the last time a black actor won the award. Will any of them win it? Your guess is as good as mine.

In the first video below, Sidney accepts the 1964 Oscar for Best Actor from Anne Bancroft (What would have happened if Sidney planted a big fat wet kiss on Anne Bancroft as she handed him the award?); and in the clip underneath that, Denzel Washington serves Sir Sidney with an Honorary Oscar during the 74th Annual Academy Awards ceremony, in 2002.

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  • No | April 13, 2013 11:47 AMReply

    Excuse me, but didn't another actor win in 2002 for a leading performance? Halle Berry?

  • Tambay | April 13, 2013 12:54 PM

    Emphasis is on "Best Actor" not "Best Actress."

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