WENN.com

Legendary actor Sidney Poitier has died at age 94. His death was confirmed by the office of the Bahamian Minister of Foreign Affairs.

TMZ reports the circumstances surrounding his death were not disclosed. It isn't clear when, where, or how Poitier died.

WENN.com

Poitier broke barriers for Black actors in Hollywood. In 1964, he became the first Black actor to win an Oscar for his performance in Lilies of the Field.

He is best known for his roles in the films A Raisin in the Sun, To Sir, With Love, In the Heat of the Night and, most notably, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner.

In Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, Poitier played a Black man who meets his white girlfriend's conservative parents (Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracey) for the first time over dinner.

Carrie Devorah / WENN.com

Poitier is one of the most celebrated actors of our time. He is pictured with former President Barack Obama at the 2009 Presidential Medal of Freedom ceremony in the East Room at the White House on March 12, 2002. The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the highest civilian honor in the U.S.

Poitier was born unexpectedly in Miami, while his parents were visiting for the weekend from the Bahamas. His birth granted him automatic U.S. citizenship.

Sidney grew up in the Bahamas, but moved back to Miami at age 15. He moved to New York at age 16, and joined the North American Negro Theatre. He landed his breakthrough role as a high school student in the film Blackboard Jungle (1955).

In 1958, Poitier and white actor Tony Curtis were chained together as escaped convicts in The Defiant Ones. Both actors received an Oscar nomination for Best Actor.

Poitier also directed various comedy films including Stir Crazy (1980) starring Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder, among other films.

Nikki Nelson/ WENN

He leaves behind his wife, Joanna Shimkus, and 6 daughters. Poitier is pictured with his wife, Joanna, and their daughter, Sidney, at a movie premiere in Los Angeles, CA. in 2007.

Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

Will Smith's first marriage was tested by his emotional crush on actress Stockard Channing (pictured). Smith opened up about his emotional crush on Channing in his memoir titled WILL.

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air star was in the first few months of his marriage to Sheree Zampino when he played con artist Paul Poitier in the film Six Degrees of Separation.

Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

The movie was inspired by the real-life story of David Hampton, a homeless homosexual who stole from wealthy elites on the Upper East Side. They welcomed him into their homes when he said he was the son of actor Sidney Poitier.

Smith said Method acting help him to become Paul Poitier in the flesh. He reveals he couldn't shake the character he played.

He wrote:

"Sheree and I were in the first few months of our marriage with a brand-new baby and for Sheree, I can imagine that this experience was unsettling to say the least. She'd married a guy named Will Smith and now she was living with a guy named Paul Poitier. And to make matters worse, during shooting I fell in love with Stockard Channing.

"After the film wrapped, Sheree and (son) Trey and I moved back to L.A. Our marriage was off to a rocky start. I found myself desperately yearning to see and speak to Stockard."

Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

In an Esquire interview in February, 2015, Smith said "my character was in love with Stockard Channing's character, and I actually fell in love with Stockard Channing."

He added:

"So the movie was over and I went home, and I was dying to see Stockard. I was like, 'Oh no! What have I done?' That was my last experience with Method acting, where you're reprogramming your mind. You're actually playing around with your psychology. You teach yourself to like things and to dislike things. It is a really dangerous place when you get good at it."

 

Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Character actress, singer, dancer and choreographer Paula Kelly died of natural causes on Sunday, February 9, at age 76, according to Broadway World.

Kelly made her Broadway debut in the 1964 musical Something More! She worked with other artists and choreographed numerous television specials, including Sammy and Friends (starring Sammy Davis Jr.).

Kelly performed a dance solo at the 41st Annual Academy Awards in 1968. She also won the London Variety Award for Best Supporting Actress in the London stage play Sweet Charity with dancer and actress Juliet Prowse.

Kelly's film credits include Trouble Man; Uptown Saturday Night (with Bill Cosby and Sidney Poitier); Soylent Green (with Charlton Heston); Andromeda Strain; Jo Jo dancer, Your Life is Calling (with Richard Pryor); and Once Upon a Time...When We Were Colored, among other films.

Her TV credits included Sanford and Son; The Carol Burnett Show; Kojak; Good Times; and The Richard Pryor Show. She also played a voodoo priestess/housekeeper in an episode of The Golden Girls.

Kelly was nominated for an EMMY Award for her recurring role as Liz Williams on the first season of the TV sitcom Night Court.

Kelly was married to TV director Don Chaffey (Charlie's Angels). They had one child together before he died of a heart attack in 1990.
 

No photo

Photos: BACKGRID, Getty Images

Eddie returned to Saturday Night Live for the first time in 35 years on Saturday, Dec. 21. But at least one comedian didn't think he was funny.

Bill Cosby's reps called Murphy a "Hollywood slave" after the comedian took a jab at his elderly colleague, who is currently behind bars.

Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc

Murphy, 2nd from left, is pictured with Cosby, 2nd from right, in a photo taken at a charity softball game in 1989. Also pictured are Redd Foxx, left, Sidney Poitier, center, and Richard Pryor.

Murphy, 58, dissed Cosby in his opening monologue when he mentioned the 82-year-old comedian's conviction on three counts of aggravated indecent assault.

"My kids are actually pretty much my whole life now," Murphy said. "And you know what - if you told me thirty years ago that I would be this boring stay-at-home, you know, house dad, and Bill Cosby would be in jail? Even I would have taken that bet. Who is America's dad now?"

In response to Murphy's apparent jab, Cosby's publicist Andre Wyatt took to Instagram to demand respect:

"Mr. Cosby became the first Black to win an Emmy for his role in I Spy and Mr. Cosby broke color barriers in the Entertainment Industry, so that Blacks like Eddie Murphy, Dave Chappell, Kevin Hart and et al., could have an opportunity to showcase their talents for many generations to come."

He continued:

"It is sad that Mr. Murphy would take this glorious moment of returning to SNL and make disparaging remarks against Mr. Cosby. One would think that Mr. Murphy was given his freedom to leave the plantation, so that he could make his own decisions; but he decided to sell himself back to being a Hollywood Slave."

Comparing Murphy to Stepin Fetchit, a Vaudeville comedian who was famous for his condescending Negro act, Wyatt wrote:

"Stepin Fetchit plus cooning equals the destruction of Black Men in Hollywood. Remember, Mr. Murphy, that Bill Cosby became legendary because he used comedy to humanize all races, religions and genders; but your attacking Mr. Cosby helps you embark on just becoming click bait. Hopefully, you will be amenable to having a meeting of the minds conversation, in order to discuss how we can use our collective platforms to enhance Black people rather than bringing all of us down together."

 

No photo

Instagram.com/@doitfortheryan

Atlanta's glitterati are abuzz over the star-studded Tyler Perry Studio launch in Atlanta this weekend. Many of the VIPs who got dressed up thinking they would get all access were disappointed to learn they weren't that important.

Ryan Cameron, host of Majic 107.5/97.5 radio in Atlanta, posed above with singer Beyonce Knowles-Carter at the event.

The star-studded party was also attended by the likes of Oprah Winfrey, Halle Berry, Will Smith and Maxine Waters.

Several people who I spoke to said they declined to attend the event once they learned of the different levels of VIP access, separate VIP rooms, secret side door access, red carpet-only access, etc.

In other words, everyone is not equal in Tyler Perry's world.

One star who got elite VIP status and didn't bother walking the red carpet with the commoners was Beyonce, who snuck in through a side door with her aging rapper husband, JAY-Z.

The inside joke was Beyonce ate like a bird at the gala dinner because she's embarrassed by her FUPA (acronym for fat upper crotch Area).

Sharp-eyed members of Beyonce's BeyHive noted her FUPA was Photoshopped out of her Instagram photos taken at the gala.

Paul R. Giunta/Getty Images

Another middle aged celebrity who isn't self-conscious about her FUPA is actress Halle Berry, who dressed in all black.

Beyonce admitted she cried at the launch of Perry's new movie studio, as she was overwhelmed by its significance for black entertainers.

The day after the bash, Beyonce revealed she cried at the event.

"Happy Sunday. Congratulations to Tyler Perry on the opening of his studios," The 39-year-old Lion King star wrote on Instagram. "I could feel our ancestors' presence. Surrounded by my heroes, I watched Denzel (Washington), Queen Oprah, Spike (Lee), Whoopi (Goldberg), Sir (Sidney) Poitier, Will, Halle , Dame Cicely (Tyson) and our angels John Singleton and Diahann Carroll honored.

"The Armand de Brignac (champagne) crashed against each soundstage as fireworks lit up the sky. Generations of blood, sweat and tears, success, excellence and brilliance.

"It makes me so proud, so full, I could not stop crying. Thank you my Virgo brother for so much love and passion put into every detail. My prayer today is that you will take it all in. You inspire me to dream even bigger."

Perry's studio has twelve soundstages, each named after an iconic Black actor, and is one of the biggest studios in the U.S.

Perry named one of the soundstages after pioneering actress Diahann Carroll, who recently passed away after a battle with cancer.

None of the soundstages was named after Beyonce.

Viola Davis, Samuel L. Jackson, Debbie Allen, Phylicia Rashad, Michael Ealy, Jill Scott, Ludacris, T.I., Usher, Sean Combs, and Ava DuVernay also attended the gala event.

FayesVision/WENN.com

Actress and singer Diahann Carroll has died after a long battle with breast cancer. She was 84. Carroll's daughter, Susan Kay confirmed the news to The Associated Press on Friday, Oct. 4.

Carroll is best known for being the first Black actress to star in a non-servant role in a television series as a nurse in "Julia".

Julia Baker was a single mom whose husband died in the Vietnam war. The groundbreaking series ran from 1968 to 1971.

Critics said the TV series was not a realistic portrayal of Black women's experience in America in the 1960s and ‘70s. But Carroll dismissed the criticism,

Nikki Nelson/ WENN

"They said it was a fantasy. All of this was untrue. Much about the character of Julia I took from my own life, my family," Carroll said in 1988.

Carroll earned an Oscar nomination for her role as a single mother who finds love in the 1974 film Claudine.

Provided by WENN.com

Carroll is pictured with her Claudine co-star James Earl Jones in a promo still from the movie.

The critically acclaimed singer also earned a Tony Award for the musical "No Strings".

Poto: WENN.com

She went on to play parts in films and TV - roles that were traditionally reserved for white actresses, such as ABC's hit drama "Dynasty".

"I like to think that I opened doors for [Black] women, although that wasn't my original intention," she said in 2002. She is pictured below with a young Angela Bassett at the Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Fund 18th Anniversary Awards Gala in 2005.

Photo: WENN.com

Born Carol Diann Johnson in New York City, she attended the High School for the Performing Arts. Her father was a subway conductor and her mother was a housewife and homemaker.

Carroll was romantically linked to Harry Belafonte, Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, Sammy Davis Jr., Sidney Poitier and David Frost. She was married four times.

Carroll was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1997. She was "stunned" by the diagnosis because there was no family history of cancer and she lived a healthy lifestyle.

She once said, "We all look forward to the day that mastectomies, chemotherapy and radiation are considered barbaric."

Carroll leaves behind a daughter, Suzanne Kay Bamford (born 1960).


Tyler Perry with his date in a photo dated Oct. 4, 2007. The two were described as "very close" at the Grand Opening of Tyler Perry's Studio tonight.  Photo: Wireimage/Getty

Tyler Perry Studio's Grand Opening is being called the party of the year by those lucky enough to be in attendance tonight.

It was a veritable who's who of Hollywood stars such as Oprah (who brought along Stedman AND Gayle), Will Smith (who came solo), Sidney Poitier, Cicely Tyson and Ruby Dee (who were honored by Perry), Patti LaBelle, Gladys Knight, Barry Bonds, Lynn Whitfield, Boris Kodjoe and Nicole Ari Parker, Mary J. Blige (who performed after the sit down dinner), Rockman Dunbar, Jennifer Lewis, Johnny Gill, Kimberly Elise, Tracy Edmonds, L.A. Reid, Melinda Williams and her husband D-Nice, Kirk Franklin, Malik Yoba, Hank Aaron, and so many more!

The studio was described as "amazing!" My source said the studio blew his mind. "This [party] was so elegant and sophisticated and high end. You wouldn't understand how much money he put into this thing!," gushed my source.

"When they get a load of the magnitude of [the studio], people are going to be flocking here and not going to Hollywood to film movies! That's what this man has done! My mouth literally dropped when I went out there and looked. He had fire works going off. You would have thought it was like the World Series! He had lights throughout the woods reflecting on the lake."

As for the Crocs that Perry was rumored to offer female guests in exchange for their stilettos, my source said the ladies were offered "comfortable shoes" to substitute for their heels because there was "a lot of walking" around the 200,000 square foot facility.

My source also said Tyler's rumored, fiancee Taraji P. Henson, was not at the party. But he said Tyler's old flame (the chick pictured above in a photo taken last year) was Tyler's date.

He said the couple were "very close" during the party. "They were holding hands and looking into each other's eyes," said my source.

I just spoke with an inside source who said if anyone is planning to crash Tyler's A-list bash tonight -- Perry is waiting for you!

I'm told Perry isn't very fond of Atlanta's entertainment industry and very few of them received invites to the Grand Opening bash at Tyler Perry Studios tonight.

In fact, only two folks I talked to received an invite to the soirée. All other invited guests are either flying in from NY or the west coast.

Perry plays host to the likes of Will and Jada Pinkett, Oprah, Usher, Mary J Blige, Sidney Poitier, Ruby Dee and others.

Uninvited guests include WGA union members who will be picketing to protest Perry firing four writers. Perry has so far resisted attempts to unionize his movie sets so he won't have to pay union wages. I'm told Perry pays his movie extras a measly $75 for a full day's work!

Read more after the break...

Read more »