The actor that played Virgil Tibbs in the movie "In the Heat of the Night" (1967) is Sidney Poitier who we are pleased to tell you is still alive. Mr. Poitier was born on 2/20/1927 in Miami, Florida, and played Virgil Tibbs in 2 other movies: They call me "MISTER Tibbs" (1970) and "The Organization" (1971). He has 6 children, 4 with Juanita Hardy (married 1950 - 1965), and 2 with Joanna Shimkus (married 1976 - present). He was the first black man to win an Academy Award (1963). He's also a prostate cancer survivor.
Howard Ellsworth Rollins, Jr. is the actor who played Virgil Tibbs on the NBC/CBS television series "In the Heat of the Night." He was born on October 17, 1950 in Baltimore, Maryland and had the role from 1988 to 1994. In 1994 he was replaced by Carl Weathers due to personal problems and legal obligations. He died on December 8, 1996, at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center in New York City of complications from AIDS-related lymphoma. Leading up to his death he appeared in an episode of the TV series "New York Undercover" (1995), the drama flick "Drunks" (1995), an episode of the TV series "Remember WENN" (1996), and the TV movie "Harambee!" (1996).
Of interest, Denzel Washington is currently on Broadway playing Walter Lee, a role made famous by Sidney Poitier, in the original 1959 production of "A Raisin in the Sun" and in the 1961 movie with the same name. Learn more from the San Jose Mercury News.