Inspirational Living for Ninety Years:  The Losses this Year of Cicely Tyson, Sidney Poitier, Betty White, and Stephen Sondheim 

by Dr. Michael Obsatz – January 2022

2021 into this January has been a time of losses of some of the most amazingly insightful talents we have ever known.

Earlier this year, we lost Cicely Tyson, African American Actress who shared real stories of real people in movies like “Sounder.”  She was in her nineties.  This past week we lost Betty White who started in show business at seventeen and kept going until she almost turned 100.  Betty championed animals and raised awareness and money for many animal rights causes.  She was funny and complex, and even poked some fun at Minnesota in “The Golden Girls.”

Sidney Poitier passed away just a few days ago at 95, broke ground as the first African American male to win an Oscar.  His movies were enlightening, highlighting racial discrimination.  He was an activist and advocate for racial and social justice.  “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?” was about inter-racial dating and marriage.

Stephen Sondheim died recently in his nineties.  He composed incredibly powerful music for many years.  He was a gay, Jewish man who understood and presented insights into the complications of relationships, work-life, and life itself.  He was aware of discrimination, and the musical, West Side Story, has been recently remade.

Cicely, Betty, Sidney, and Stephen were brilliant human beings who shed light on so much pain and suffering.

I am grateful that they lived so long and produced so much.  I am grateful that I could learn from each one of them about kindness, compassion, and empathy.  They all seemed to have a deep understanding of how outsiders who were marginalized felt.

© 2022, Dr. Michael Obsatz, all rights reserved,

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