France makes Poitier commander
The French culture minister Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres praised Mr Poitier for his landmark role in tearing down barriers for black actors in Hollywood and told him: "You are the champion of equality between men."
Following his first appearance on the big screen in Darryl Zanuck's No Way Out, Poitier became renowned for his talent and integrity in a series of groundbreaking films.
In 1963 Poitier became the first actor of African descent to win a best actor Academy Award for his role in Lilies Of The Field, he was awarded the Life Achievement Award by the Screen Actors Guild in 2000 and two years later won a Lifetime Achievement award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Poitier was also knighted in 1974 by Queen Elizabeth II by rights of his Bahamian citizenship.
On receiving this latest award the 79-year-old thanked his parents revealing that they had instilled in him a sense of honesty, integrity and passion.
He also praised the directors who had chosen to cast him calling them "men who chose to change that pattern because it was not democratic, it was not American, it was not human".
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