Sidney Poitier speaks onstage at the 39th AFI Life Achievement Award honoring Morgan Freeman held at Sony Pictures Studios on June 9, 2011 in Culver City, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for AFI)

With the death of Ernest Borgnine at age 95 on Sunday, Sidney Poitier now stands as the oldest best actor Oscar winner alive.

On a historic night in 1964, Poitier (who is now 85-years-old) became the first African-American to win the best actor Academy Award, for his role in Lillies of the Field.

theGrio slideshow: 20 films that uplifted black America

In the movie, Poitier played an unemployed construction worker who thinks he’s just passing through a little town in New Mexico, but winds up staying to build a chapel for a cluster of German-speaking nuns. During his 1964 Oscar acceptance speech he said, “because it is a long journey to this moment, I am naturally indebted to countless numbers of people. To all of them, all I can say is a very special thank you.”


Throughout his career, Poiter starred in more than 50 major films and took home the prestigious Cecile B. DeMille Award bestowed by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association in 1982, as well as 2002’s Honorary Oscar “for his extraordinary performances and unique presence on the screen and for representing the industry with dignity, style and intelligence.”

Follow Chris Witherspoon on Twitter at @WitherspoonC