Stephen Perry has paid tribute to his “adopted” father, Sidney Poitier.
The 73-year-old actor starred alongside the late Hollywood legend – who died on Thursday (06.01.21) aged 94 – when he was just 12 years old in 1961’s ‘A Raisin in the Sun’ and he recalled how Sidney always used to “watch out” for him in the early days of his career.
Stephen – who played Sydney’s on-screen son in ‘ A Raisin in the Sun’ – said: “He [had quite a sense of humour]. He made it comfortable for me with his sense of humor and warmth. I felt hugged, I felt his arm around my shoulder. I always felt a part of the cast.
“Just a consummate professional. I was a kid, there were a cast of people who were there before me, and Sidney made me feel welcomed to that group of people. I was the new kid in the cast as well, for him to embrace me like he did, certainly I knew that I was the new kid. They made me feel welcome.”
Describing their relationship as a father/son bond, he added to ‘Entertainment Tonight’: “Well, little old for a father now, but certainly growing up it was a father-son relationship. He and Sammy Davis Jr. watched out for me, they made me comfortable. We’re talking 60 years ago and these were two of the biggest stars, Black stars in Hollywood, and both of them took me as their adopted sons.”
Stephen recalled he and Sidney being the only Black cast members on the movie and told how his co-star would embrace his “brother”, a man who shined shoes at the Hollywood studio.
He said: “When I worked with him, the only Black people on the lot was our cast and the shoeshine man, and I remember him speaking and tipping the shoeshine man and embracing that person.
“I was a little boy and I could recognise we’re the only Black people here. And Poitier, he didn’t forget that man that was shining shoes as we walked around the lot. But Poitier recognized that the shoeshine man was his brother, was his mankind.”
Another of the legendary actor’s former co-stars, Lulu Kennedy-Cairns – who made her movie debut in their 1967 drama ‘To Sir, with Love’, has also paid a touching tribute.
Sharing a photo of the pair in the film together, she wrote on Instagram: “Sidney you were my friend, my teacher, my inspiration…. “Sir rises above the fray and leads by example”…this was how you lived your life. You empowered and educated us do we could choose to follow your lead (sic)”
Sidney’s passing was confirmed by Fred Mitchell, the Minister of Foreign Affairs for the Bahamas, on Friday (07.01.22).
Fred said: “We’ve lost a great a Bahamian and I’ve lost a personal friend.”