By Laura Blanco
In late December and early January, three beloved entertainment powerhouses passed away. Actress Betty White, actor Bob Saget, and actor Sidney Poitier impacted many lives globally and even on Barry’s campus.
Valeria Vega, a senior studying vocal performance and theatre, spent her younger years watching these actors on the big screen.
“Since I was little, my fondest memories from my childhood were watching Betty White in ‘Golden Girls,’ Bob Saget in ‘Full House,’ and watching Sidney Poitier in films such as ‘A Raisin in the Sun’ and ‘A Patch of Blue,’ which showcased the love between an interracial couple during the time of civil rights,” said Vega.
Sidney Poitier, who died on Jan. 6, was a Bahamian American actor, director, and producer born in Miami. He broke the color barrier in the film industry as the first African American to win the Best Actor Academy Award for his performance in “Lilies of the Field.”
In total, he won 28 awards throughout his lifetime and was nominated 41 times. In 2009, he was presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by former president Barack Obama.
“Sidney paved the way for today’s artists by expanding the horizons and warming the hearts of millions, all the while changing the way America saw itself,” said Vega.
Betty White, who died on Dec. 31, was an American actress born in Oak Park, Illinois. As an icon in both the TV and film worlds, she was one of the first women to work both in front of and behind the camera.
Some of her most notable works are “Hollywood on Television,” which she hosted, “Life with Elizabeth,” which she starred in and produced, and “The Golden Girls." White won 39 awards over the course of her life and had 40 nominations. In a 2018 PBS documentary, White is referred to as “The First Lady of Television."
“She revolutionized what it meant to be a working woman, especially in an industry that was mostly male centric and when women liberties and freedom to pursue what they were passionate in was nearly impossible,” said Vega.
Another actor who impacted Vega and many others is Bob Saget, who passed away on Jan. 9.
One of Vega’s favorite quotes from Bob Saget is, “Like with any good art form, if you can entertain people and make them think, it’s an honor. It’s an honor to be a comedian.” She holds this quote close to her heart as she pursues the arts.
Bob Saget was an American sitcom star, TV host, and stand-up comedian. He played America’s dad on “Full House,” hosted “America’s Funniest Home Videos,” and was part of many other sitcoms and stand-up specials.
“I always found it comedic how he was known for his incredibly dark and edgy humor in comedy clubs, and the moment he was cast in Full House he ended up portraying this all-American dad archetype that we all fell in love with,” said Vega.
All of these artists inspired Vega to find her own direction.
“Each of these actors gave the world something with their presence and their work, and their legacy lives on within their art and impact they left with this new legacy of upcoming artists,” she said.