Sidney Poitier’s ‘To Sir, with Love’ co-star Lulu mourns late actor: ‘There’s an excellent unhappiness along with his loss’

Sidney Poitier’s ‘To Sir, with Love’ co-star Lulu mourns late actor: ‘There's a great sadness with his loss'

2022-01-29 16:53:05

Lulu Kennedy-Cairns was petrified when Sidney Poitier walked onto the set.

The Scottish singer, greatest generally known as Lulu, was making her movie debut in 1967’s “To Sir, with Love” when her co-star made his first look.

Scottish singer Lulu, circa 1965. 
(Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Pictures)

“Once I first met him, I used to be terrified,” she recalled to Fox Information. “He was extremely tall, and I’m so quick. And I used to be residing in Lululand as a result of I used to be a rock ‘n’ roll, pop singer. I had by no means acted earlier than. And right here was this extremely dignified man who held himself so fantastically. I simply wished to get the job proper and never make a idiot out of anyone. I wished to dwell as much as his expectations. And I knew he selected his movies very rigorously.”

Poitier, the groundbreaking actor and enduring inspiration who reworked how Black individuals have been portrayed on the large display screen, died Jan. 6 at age 94. He was the primary Black actor to win an Academy Award for greatest lead efficiency and the primary to be a high box-office draw.


American-born Bahamian actor Sidney Poitier as teacher Mark Thackeray, in 'To Sir, With Love', directed by James Clavell, 1967.

American-born Bahamian actor Sidney Poitier as trainer Mark Thackeray, in ‘To Sir, With Love’, directed by James Clavell, 1967.
(Silver Display screen Assortment/Getty Pictures)

Within the British drama, Poitier performed a trainer who wins over his unruly college students at a London secondary college. Lulu sang its iconic title for the movie.

“He was a trainer in that movie, however he was completely a trainer in life,” Lulu recalled. “The theme of the movie was about overcoming prejudice. If you’re not educated, how will you perceive? We’re equal. We bleed the identical shade. And we have to join and talk. 

“It was superb for me to be part of a movie that unfold these messages. And I used to be in heaven singing that track. Phrases can’t convey how being a part of such a major movie with an incredible actor made me really feel. I used to be part of one thing actually vital.”

Lulu stated she will be able to vividly recall the second Poitier heard her track for the very first time.

“Oh he cherished it,” she chuckled. “I simply keep in mind us dancing. I believed he was so cool. He had such rhythm and superb strikes. It was all easy. I keep in mind everybody simply stood there in awe, myself included, and going, ‘Oh my God, have a look at him.’ And he received down! The entire thing made me smile. As a result of Sidney was poised and personal. He held onto his dignity. However right here he was, simply getting down. We have been all thrilled.”


Sidney Poitier dances with one of his students in a still from the film ‘To Sir, with Love’.

Sidney Poitier dances with considered one of his college students in a nonetheless from the movie ‘To Sir, with Love’.
(Columbia Tristar/Getty Pictures)

“He did the whole lot with such class,” Lulu added. “He was a perfectionist, however within the sense that he was extremely considerate and detailed, by no means careless. He at all times pulled at my heartstrings. Even the best way he ate an orange was an artwork type. I keep in mind he appeared to have an orange on daily basis on set after lunch. And he would simply peel this orange with one swift transfer. I used to be mesmerized even with the best way he peeled a pores and skin off an orange!”

The movie’s title track, “To Sir with Love,” reached the highest of the Billboard Sizzling 100 chart within the U.S. And it wouldn’t be the final time Lulu serenaded Poitier.

Sidney Poitier died earlier this month. He was 94.

Sidney Poitier died earlier this month. He was 94.
(Columbia Photos/Getty Pictures)

“I keep in mind his seventy fifth birthday,” Lulu recalled. “It was an enormous second as a result of Quincy Jones and Oprah Winfrey threw an enormous occasion for him. All of Hollywood royalty was there. I keep in mind she was on stage describing what it was like watching him on the display screen when she was very younger and the way a lot of an affect that had on her. 

“I used to be standing on the aspect of the stage, nervous as ever. Then Oprah stated, ‘I don’t know what to get you on your birthday since you’ve given me a lot … However I received your birthday present all the best way from London.’ And that second, I appeared on stage. I may barely get any phrases out of my mouth. And he was emotional too. He’s clapping so fortunately with that huge smile on his face and blowing kisses at me on stage. I want I may have been extra contained, however I used to be so moved. All of us have been.”

Poitier died at his dwelling in Los Angeles, in accordance with Latrae Rahming, the director of communications for the Prime Minister of the Bahamas. Messages honoring and mourning the late star flooded social media. Like many others, Lulu paid homage to her beloved co-star on Instagram.


Singer Lulu performs during The Film Society of Lincoln Center's presentation of the 38th Annual Chaplin Award at Alice Tully Hall May 2, 2011, in New York City.

Singer Lulu performs throughout The Movie Society of Lincoln Middle’s presentation of the thirty eighth Annual Chaplin Award at Alice Tully Corridor Could 2, 2011, in New York Metropolis.
(Mark Von Holden/Getty Pictures)

“He lived to a very good age,” stated Lulu. “I used to be accepting of it, however there’s an excellent a part of me that’s emotional about it. There’s an excellent unhappiness along with his loss. I don’t usually wallow in regrets, however I do have slightly little bit of remorse that I didn’t see extra of him, that I didn’t make extra of an effort to spend time with him within the later years. We did preserve involved, however was it sufficient?”

“Nonetheless, I’ve to inform myself that I’m one of many luckiest individuals to have had the expertise of hanging onto his coattails. How may I repay him for one thing like that? He launched me to an entire new world. He shared such an vital message by way of his movies. And I’ll carry these classes for the remainder of my life.”

From left to right, actors Judy Geeson, Adrienne Posta, Sidney Poitier and Lulu on the set of the drama film ‘To Sir, With Love’.

From left to proper, actors Judy Geeson, Adrienne Posta, Sidney Poitier and Lulu on the set of the drama movie ‘To Sir, With Love’.
(Night Commonplace/Hulton Archive/Getty Pictures)

Poitier is survived by his spouse Joanna Shimkus and 5 daughters: Beverly, Pamela, Sherri, Anika and Sydney. His daughter Gina Poitier died in 2018.

The Related Press contributed to this report.

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