Sidney Poitier

Sidney Poitier

Infobox actor
name = Sidney Poitier

imagesize = 200px
caption = Poitier (left) with Harry Belafonte (center) and Charlton Heston (right) at the 1963 Civil Rights March on Washington, D.C
birthdate = birth date and age|1927|2|20
location = Miami, Florida
yearsactive = 1943 - present
spouse = Juanita Hardy (1950-1965)
Joanna Shimkus (1976-)
academyawards = Best Actor
1963 "Lilies of the Field"
Academy Honorary Award
2002 Lifetime Achievement
baftaawards = Best Foreign Actor
1958 "The Defiant Ones"
Britannia Award
2006 Lifetime Contributions to International Film
goldenglobeawards = Best Actor - Motion Picture Drama
1963 "Lilies of the Field"
Cecil B. DeMille Award
1982 Lifetime Achievement
grammyawards = Best Spoken Word Album
2001 "The Measure of a Man"
naacpimageawards = Outstanding Actor in a Television Movie, Mini-series or Dramatic Special
1999 "The Simple Life of Noah Dearborn"
sagawards = Life Achievement Award
2000 Lifetime Achievement
awards = Silver Bear for Best Actor
1958 "The Defiant Ones"
1963 "Lilies of the Field"
AFI Life Achievement Award
1992 Lifetime Achievement

Sir Sidney Poitier, KBE (pronEng|ˈpwɑːtie:; born February 20, 1927) is an Oscar-, Golden Globe-, BAFTA- and Grammy award-winning Bahamian-American actor, film director, author, and diplomat. He broke through as a star in acclaimed performances in American films and plays, which, by consciously defying racial stereotyping, gave a new dramatic credibility for black actors to mainstream film audiences in the Western world. In 1963, Poitier became the first black man to win the Academy Award for Best Actor—for his role in "Lilies of the Field". The significance of this achievement was later bolstered in 1967 when he starred in three very well received films—"To Sir, With Love"; "In the Heat of the Night"; and "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner"—making him the top box office star of that year. [ [ "Sidney Poitier"] . MSN Encarta.]

Poitier has directed a number of popular movies such as "Uptown Saturday Night", and "Let's Do It Again" (with friend Bill Cosby), and "Stir Crazy" (starring Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder). In 2002, 38 years after receiving the Best Actor Award, Poitier was chosen by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to receive the Honorary Award, designated "To Sidney Poitier in recognition of his remarkable accomplishments as an artist and as a human being." [ [ "Sidney Poitier awards: Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences"] . Awards database -]

Since 1997 he has been the Bahamian ambassador to Japan.


Early life

By Poitier's own account, he was born in Miami, Florida but spent his childhood in The Bahamas and later moved back to the United States. [ [ Tavis Smiley interviews Sidney Poitier] ] By other accounts, he was born at sea en route to Miami, Florida, where his Bahamian parents, Evelyn (née Outten) and Reginald James Poitier, [ [ Sidney Poitier Biography (1927-) ] ] traveled to sell tomatoes and other produce from their farm on tiny Cat Island. Poitier was born prematurely and was not originally expected to survive the boat ride; his birth was recorded in Miami (though he may not have been born there), as the vessel was already closer to Florida. He spent his early years on remote Cat Island, which had a population of 4,000 and no electricity.

At the age of 10, Poitier traveled to Nassau with his family. His family attended the Anglican and then the Catholic church, and Poitier was also involved with local voodoo traditions. [ [ The religion of Sidney Poitier, actor ] ] As he got older, he displayed an increasing inclination toward juvenile delinquency. At the age of 15, his parents shipped him off to Miami to live with his older brother. At age 17, Poitier moved to New York City and held a string of menial jobs. During this time, he was arrested for vagrancy after being thrown out of his housing complex for not paying rent, and decided to join the United States Army.

Acting career

Poitier tried his hand at the American Negro Theater, where he was handily rejected by audiences. Determined to refine his acting skills and rid himself of his noticeable Bahamian accent, he spent the next six months dedicating himself to achieving theatrical success. On his second attempt at the theater, he was noticed and given a leading role in the Broadway production "Lysistrata", for which he got excellent reviews. By the end of 1949, he had to choose between leading roles on stage and an offer to work for Darryl F. Zanuck in the film "No Way Out" (1950). His performance in "No Way Out" as a doctor treating a white bigot was noticed and led to more roles, each considerably more interesting and prominent than most black actors of the time were getting, though still less so than those white actors routinely obtained.

Poitier's breakout role was as a member of an incorrigible high school class in the 1955 film "Blackboard Jungle". At age twenty-seven, like most of the actors in the film, he was not a teenager. Poitier was the first male black actor to be nominated for a competitive Academy Award (for "The Defiant Ones", 1958), and also the first to win the Academy Award for Best Actor (for "Lilies of the Field" in 1963). (James Baskett was the first to "receive" an Oscar, an Honorary Academy Award for his performance as Uncle Remus in the Walt Disney production of "Song of the South" in 1948).

He acted in the first production of "A Raisin in the Sun" on Broadway in 1959, and later starred in the film version released in 1961. He also gave memorable performances in "The Bedford Incident" (1965), "A Patch of Blue" (1965) co-starring Elizabeth Hartman and Shelley Winters; "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" (1967); and "To Sir, with Love" (1967). Poitier played Virgil Tibbs, a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania detective in the 1967 film "In the Heat of the Night" and its two sequels: "They Call Me Mister Tibbs" (1970) and "The Organization" (1971).

Directorial career

Poitier has directed several films, the most successful being the Richard Pryor-Gene Wilder comedy "Stir Crazy", which for years was the highest grossing film directed by a person of African descent.Fact|date=January 2008 His feature film directorial debut was the western "Buck and the Preacher" in which Poitier also starred in alongside Harry Belafonte. Poitier replaced original director Joseph Sargent. The trio of Poitier, Cosby, and Belafonte reunited again (with Poitier again directing) in "Uptown Saturday Night". Poitier also directed Cosby in "Let's Do It Again", "A Piece of the Action", and "Ghost Dad".

Personal life

Poitier was first married to Juanita Hardy from April 29 1950 until 1965. He has been married to Joanna Shimkus, a Canadian-born former actress of Lithuanian descent, since January 23 1976. He has four children by his first marriage and two children by his second marriage, all girls. His fifth daughter is actress Sydney Tamiia Poitier.

He has written three autobiographical books, "This Life" (1980), "" (2000) and "Life Beyond Measure - letters to my Great-Granddaughter" (2008). The second one became an Oprah's Book Club selection.

Later life

In April 1997, Poitier was appointed as ambassador of the Bahamas to Japan, a position he currently holds. He is also the ambassador of the Bahamas to UNESCO. Since 1998, he has been a Member of the Board of Directors of The Walt Disney Company.Fact|date=September 2008



Awards and recognition

*Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire, awarded in 1974. Because Poitier is a citizen of the Bahamas, a Commonwealth Realm that subscribes to the British Honours System, this is a substantive (as opposed to honorary) knighthood, which entitles him to the style "Sir." As with other dual citizens of countries which do and do not permit the use of titles Poitier does not use the style in the USA, nor does Lady Poitier use "Lady" in Canada.
*1992 AFI Life Achievement Award
*1995 SAG Life Achievement Award
*1997 Appointed non-resident Bahamian Ambassador to Japan
*1999 Kennedy Center Honors
*2000 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special for "The Simple Life of Noah Dearborn"
*2001 NAACP Image Award - Hall of Fame Award
*2001 Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album - Rick Harris, John Runnette (producers) and Sidney Poitier for "The Measure of a Man"
*2002 Honorary Oscar - "For his extraordinary performances and unique presence on the screen and for representing the industry with dignity, style and intelligence."

ee also

*List of African American firsts
*David Hampton, an impostor who posed as Poitier's son "David" in 1983, which inspired a play and a film, "Six Degrees of Separation".


External links

* [ Official publisher web page]
*imdb name|id=0001627|name=Sidney Poitier
*tcmdb name|id=153567|name=Sidney Poitier
*ibdb name|id=15894|name=Sidney Poitier
* [ Poitier breaks new ground with Oscar win] (BBC, April 13, 1964)
* [ African-Americans: Sidney Poitier]
* [ Sidney Poitier to get Marian Anderson Award (July 26, 2006)]
* [ The Purpose Prize: Sidney Poitier]

NAME= Poitier, Sidney
SHORT DESCRIPTION= Actor, director, author
DATE OF BIRTH= February 20, 1927
PLACE OF BIRTH= Miami, Florida, United States

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