The Passing of Icons

        Many people have been devastated to hear of acting legends Betty White and Sir Sidney Poitier’s deaths. Betty White passed on December 31st, 2021. Sidney Poitier passed on January 6th, 2022. Both individuals had a huge impact on the acting community.

          Betty White was an actress and comedian best known for her role as Rose Nylund in The Golden Girls, a comedic sitcom. Betty White was also best known for her love for animals. White donated thousands of dollars to animal charities.

Photo courtesy of Wire Image

         Many people loved Betty White because she advocated so much for human rights as well. In 2010 to Parade Magazine, Betty White stated, “If a couple has been together all that time– and there are gay relationships that are more solid than some heterosexual ones– I think it’s fine if they want to get married. I don’t know how people can get so anti-something. Mind your own business, take care of your affairs, and don’t worry about other people so much.” Betty White shatters the saying “I’m from a different generation” as an excuse for bigotry. Her life was an exemplary representation of everything a human should be. 

        Her 100th birthday was just around the corner! On January 17th, 2022, Betty White would have turned 100. So many are saddened to see that she did not make it. 

        Junior Andrea Huerta says, “I felt sad for her because she was expecting to celebrate her 100th birthday but she never did.” That is the saddest part of it! 

         Many heartbroken fans created a hashtag on Twitter called the #BettyWhiteChallenge. This challenge consists of picking a local rescue or animal shelter and donating $5 in Betty White’s name, on her birthday. The effort generated at least $12.7 million! This challenge was a beautiful way to honor Betty White. She won’t be forgotten.

          Sidney Poitier was an iconic actor who was the first African-American man to win the Academy Award for Best Actor for the film Lillies of the Field. Poitier’s best-known films are, To Sir, With Love, In the Heat of the Night and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. Sir Poitier changed the world and paved the way for many actors and actresses of color. 

         In 1974, Poitier was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II, making him Sir Sidney Poitier. He was knighted because he was a Bahamian citizen and U.S. resident at the same time. Sir Poitier was also known for being an activist. He was a part of the civil rights movement and he protested against racism and segregation as well.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Though he retired from acting in 2000, Poitier’s roles in his movies still impact the world today. Poitier’s roles in his best-known movies are very influential and change people’s way of viewing the world. All of the roles he acts out are great people as well. Sir Poitier was a very wise man, one of his well-known quotes is, “Forgiveness works in two ways, in most instances. People have to forgive themselves too. The powerful have to forgive themselves for their behavior. That should be a sacred process.” Poitier continued to inspire people throughout his entire life and he will always be remembered for his amazing accomplishments. 

         Theater advisor Mrs. Hightower says, “I was really sad, very sad to lose these two giants in the industry who did so much good. They’re amazing. They are both two giants in their field like this incredible, groundbreaking female comedian and this incredible actor who was the first African American and Bahamian to get a big award. That’s really important to see representation and for our students to get to see themselves and other performers.” Hightower brings up that having this representation for People of Color is important to teenagers today. It is important to see representation because Poitier winning the Academy Award inspired thousands of black actors and actresses around the world. 

          “The two of them inspired so many performers to be like ‘Hey I can do that, I can be a part of that.’ It’s just a continuation of that here, our students can be inspired by them but also the people who were inspired by them and all the groundbreaking things that they did and their amazing careers. It’s like a ripple effect, so that hopefully our students feel like they can do anything and that there is no limitation on them because of who they are or their race or any part of their identity. And it’s people like that who have made that possible.” 

         Theater students here at North High School need those big figures like Betty White and Sir Sidney Poitier as Hightower stated because it inspires them to chase their dreams. 

         Mrs. Hightower and many others a part of the theater community are anguished to see Betty White and Sidney Poitier go. They have impacted the acting community and world with their advocacy for human rights and symbolic roles in films and television. Betty White and Sir Sidney Poitier will truly be missed, and may they rest in peace.