Sidney Poitier
Actor, director, author
Sidney Poitier
Sir Sidney Poitier, KBE is a Bahamian actor, film director, author, and diplomat. In 1963, Poitier became the first black person to win an 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 successful 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.
Biography
Sidney Poitier's personal information overview.
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News
News abour Sidney Poitier from around the web
Sidney Poitier's Daughter On The Groundbreaking Life Lessons Of 'Guess Who's Coming To Dinner'
Huffington Post - 6 days
At the height of the civil rights movement in 1967, Sidney Poitier defied the odds with his role in “Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner.”  Earlier this month, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment commemorated the film’s 50th anniversary with the release of a special edition DVD. Directed by Stanley Kramer and starring Poitier, Katharine Hepburn, and Spencer Tracy, the controversial film ― released six months following the landmark Loving v. Virginia decision that legalized interracial marriage ― follows a liberal San Francisco couple’s introduction to their daughter’s distinguished black fiancé. Fifty years after its release, Poitier’s daughter, Beverly Poitier-Henderson tells HuffPost that the motion picture was groundbreaking for its portrayal of how African-Americans and interracial families were accepted in American society.  “I think that it was very telling for the writer to create the characters that he did, so that white America could relate to the situation I think in a more ...
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Huffington Post article
'In the Heat of the Night' and Sidney Poitier to open TCM Film Festival
LATimes - 13 days
Once again finding timely subject matter in the celluloid past, the TCM Classic Film Festival opens April 6 with the 1967 crime drama “In the Heat of the Night.” Directed by Norman Jewison, the film won Oscars for best picture, Stirling Silliphant’s screenplay, Hal Ashby’s film editing, sound and...
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LATimes article
"Maya Angelou - And Still I Rise": The Caged Bird Sings!
Huffington Post - 24 days
Directors Bob Hercules and Rita Coburn Whack have gifted us with a captivating, well-crafted, thoroughly entertaining documentary about the extraordinary writer, actress, singer, poet and political activist Maya Angelou. "Maya Angelou - And Still I Rise" is not just a biography. It is an artistic, social and political history of our time. The directors have captured the spirit of one of the most vital, self made creative artists of the Twentieth Century. We apprehend Maya (or Ms. Angelou as she sometimes liked to be called!) through vintage pictures, film and the words of her contemporaries: President Bill Clinton, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Oprah Winfrey, her son Guy Johnson, the rapper Common, film director John Singleton and the actors Louis Gossett, Jr., Alfre Woodward and Cicely Tyson. The film deftly captures the essence of a woman whose life and creativity distill main themes of the American experience from slavery to post industrialism. Maya's life had the dramatic u ...
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Huffington Post article
Classic Films Of Human Drama: Rx For Our Fraught Times: Withdrawn; Submitted Via New Platform
Huffington Post - 3 months
This polarized nation does not agree on much anymore, but by universal agreement Americans are united in feeling this last presidential campaign was the worst ever. Without reciting details---we're a nation in recovery---it was a contest in which the candidate with an R after his name took us on a tour of the lower depths. Moreover, since our presidential campaigns run so long, for a good (or bad) year and a half, our exposure to a rotting campaign process was prolonged enough to cause profound revulsion, even a kind of trauma. I know I am not the only American forced to ask during that unedifying spectacle, How low can we go? Which is why I found myself yearning for movies presenting human beings in a more elevated light, where honor, integrity, courage, love, simple human connection, are on view and in play. Where humanity is defined upward, even heroically, as in the classic films of the '30s through the '60s, rather than defined downward into pathology, as so much contemp ...
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Huffington Post article
Hollywood, It's Time To Stand Up
Huffington Post - 4 months
One morning, over breakfast, my father said to me "If a man can't go his own way, he's nothing. The moment you give up what you stand for for fame or money, that's the moment you lose your soul." Yeah, it's heavy talk for a kid over Rice Crispies, but, my Dad was a pretty deep guy. And, he was a man who stood up, and spoke the truth. Sometimes, it made me cringe with nervousness. But, in the end, it was what made me most proud. And that was how that morning's particular chat started. I asked why more people like him didn't stand up and speak up. He told me the truth. Hollywood is full of pussies. It always has been. There have always been those that bowed out from doing the right thing, and hid behind whatever cloak they think made their cowardice palatable. And then, there were those few. The mavericks. The do-what-is-righters, no matter what the cost is on the other end of maintaining their integrity. The ones that stood up to be counted on the right side of history. The ...
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Huffington Post article
Hollywood has long shown discomfort with interracial couples, but change is happening
LATimes - 4 months
 In 1967, the same year the Supreme Court case Loving vs. Virginia struck down laws banning miscegenation, Sidney Poitier starred in “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” as a black man romantically involved with blond Katherine Houghton. Yet in both real and reel life, black-white romantic relationships...
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LATimes article
African American Film Critics to honor Sidney Poitier with inaugural Icon award
LATimes - 4 months
The African American Film Critics Association announced Thursday its intentions to honor actor Sidney Poitier with its first Icon award. The recognition, to be bestowed at the organization’s February ceremony, comes on the 50th anniversary of Poitier’s groundbreaking film “Guess Who’s Coming to...
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LATimes article
Remembering Gene Wilder And Gilda Radner, Comedy's Original Power Couple
Huffington Post - 6 months
The late Gilda Radner and Gene Wilder had a special kind of love. The “Saturday Night Live” star and “Willy Wonka” actor met on the set of 1982’s “Hanky Panky,” directed by Sidney Poitier. After marrying in 1984, Radner and Wilder were attached at the hip.  The two’s marriage was cut tragically short when Radner died from ovarian cancer five years later. Wilder maintained that his wife had a wonderful sense of humor up until her death, telling People that she would shout at her cancer cells as her classic “SNL” character, Roseanne Roseannadanna, saying, “Hey, what are you trying to do in here? Make me sick?’’  While remembering his late wife in a personal essay for the magazine years ago, Wilder said that her untimely death still affected him.  “If I need to cry or think a little bit, I’ll go over to the cemetery where she is buried to make sure the tree our friends planted is doing well and the grounds are kept up,” the actor said. “I think one of the things that would m ...
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Huffington Post article
Mo'Nique: Hollywood Only Allows One Black Actor To Shine At A Time
Huffington Post - about 1 year
Oscar winner Mo'Nique is disappointed by a sad reality about the film world: There's not much room for black actors in the upper echelons of Hollywood. The actress, who talked about the Oscar boycott in the latest episode of her podcast "Mo'Nique and Sidney's Open Relationship," called out Hollywood's warped vision of diversity in an interview with HuffPost Live on Tuesday. "Why is it that it can only be just one?" she asked. "Normally, when it comes to people of color, it can only be just one that gets in. When there was Sidney Poitier, who else was there? Then there was Denzel Washington, then it was Will Smith. And we always want to know, who's going to be the next?" That quota-like system doesn't apply to white actors, Mo'Nique continued: We never say, 'Who's going to be the next Matt Damon?' because there's George Clooney. We never say, 'Who's going to be the next George Clooney?' because there's Tom Hanks. We never say who's going to be the next [of] t ...
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Huffington Post article
Minority Report: Not the Movie -- The Oscar Controversy
Huffington Post - about 1 year
I'm not comfortable taking issue with the hubbub surrounding the lack of minorities in major categories in this year's Oscar race. Indeed, it's unfortunate in the past two years there've been none in the four acting races, but the omissions belie a number of factors and, if there is criticism to be directed, it should not be the Motion Picture Academy. There've been 97 minority actors nominated since 1939 when Hattie McDaniel became the first Black Oscar recipient for playing a servant in Gone With The Wind. And that is part of the problem, because for many, many years Blacks and other minorities were relegated to roles not only of a supporting nature but indicative of the racist times when their lots in major professions were limited. Film icon Myrna Loy of Thin Man fame is said to have asked MGM's hierarchy, "Why does every Black person in the movies have to play a servant? How about a Black person walking up the steps of a court house carrying a briefcase?" But sadly the next B ...
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Huffington Post article
Sidney Poitier To Get BAFTA Fellowship
Huffington Post - about 1 year
Sidney Poitier is set to receive the BAFTA Fellowship at the film academy's main awards ceremony to be held in London on Feb. 14. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.
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Huffington Post article
Oscar-Winning Cinematographer Haskell Wexler Dies At 93
Huffington Post - about 1 year
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Haskell Wexler, one of Hollywood's most famous and honored cinematographers and one whose innovative approach helped him win Oscars for "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" and the Woody Guthrie biopic "Bound for Glory," died Sunday. He was 93. Wexler died peacefully in his sleep, his son, Oscar-nominated sound man Jeff Wexler, told The Associated Press. A liberal activist, Wexler photographed some of the most socially relevant and influential films of the 1960s and 1970s, including the Jane Fonda-Jon Voight anti-war classic, "Coming Home," the Sidney Poitier-Rod Steiger racial drama "In the Heat of the Night" and the Oscar-winning adaptation of Ken Kesey's "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest." He was also the rare cinematographer known enough to the general public to receive a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame. "He was a wonderful father. I owe most of who I am to his wisdom and guidance," said his son, nominated for Oscars himself for "Independence Day" a ...
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Huffington Post article
Timeline
Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Sidney Poitier
    LATE_ADULTHOOD
  • 2016
    Age 89
    In 2016 he was awarded the BAFTA Fellowship for outstanding lifetime achievement in film.
    More Details Hide Details Sidney Poitier's parents were Evelyn (née Outten) and Reginald James Poitier, Bahamian farmers who owned a farm on Cat Island and traveled to Miami to sell tomatoes and other produce. Reginald worked as a cab driver in Nassau, Bahamas. Poitier was born in Miami while his parents were visiting. His birth was two months premature and he was not expected to survive, but his parents remained in Miami for three months to nurse him to health. Poitier grew up in the Bahamas, then a British Crown colony. But because of his birth in the United States, he automatically received American citizenship. Poitier's uncle has claimed that the Poitier ancestors on his father's side had migrated from Haiti and were probably part of the runaway slaves who had established maroon communities throughout the Bahamas, including Cat Island. He mentions that the surname Poitier is a French name, and there were no white Poitiers from the Bahamas.
  • 2014
    Age 87
    In March 2014, he swore in the new mayor of Beverly Hills, California, Lili Bosse, in a ceremony at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts.
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    On March 2, 2014, Poitier appeared with Angelina Jolie at the 86th Academy Awards, to present the Best Director Award.
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  • 2013
    Age 86
    Poitier wrote the novel Montaro Caine, released in May 2013.
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  • 2009
    Age 82
    On August 12, 2009, Poitier was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States' highest civilian honor, by President Barack Obama.
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  • 2002
    Age 75
    From 2002 to 2007, he was concurrently the ambassador of the Bahamas to UNESCO.
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  • 1997
    Age 70
    In April 1997, Poitier was appointed ambassador of the Bahamas to Japan, a position he held until 2007.
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  • 1995
    Age 68
    From 1995 to 2003, he served as a member of the board of directors of The Walt Disney Company.
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  • FIFTIES
  • 1985
    Age 58
    Poitier directed the first popular dance battle movie, Fast Forward in 1985.
    More Details Hide Details Poitier recorded an album with the composer Fred Katz called Poitier Meets Plato, in which Poitier recites passages from Plato's writings.
  • THIRTIES
  • 1967
    Age 40
    In 1967, he was the most successful draw at the box office, the commercial peak of his career, with three popular films, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner; To Sir, with Love and In the Heat of the Night.
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  • 1966
    Age 39
    For instance, in 1966, he turned down an opportunity to play the lead in an NBC production of Othello with that spirit in mind.
    More Details Hide Details In 2001, Poitier received an Honorary Academy Award for his overall contribution to American cinema. With the death of Ernest Borgnine, in 2012, he became the oldest living man to have won the Academy Award for Best Actor.
  • 1959
    Age 32
    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.
    More Details Hide Details He also gave memorable performances in The Bedford Incident (1965), and A Patch of Blue (1965) co-starring Elizabeth Hartman and Shelley Winters.
  • TWENTIES
  • 1950
    Age 23
    Poitier was first married to Juanita Hardy from April 29, 1950, until 1965.
    More Details Hide Details He has been married to Joanna Shimkus, a Canadian former actress of Lithuanian-Jewish and Irish descent, since January 23, 1976. He has four daughters with his first wife and two with his second: Beverly, Pamela, Sherri, Gina, Anika, and Sydney Tamiia. In addition to his six daughters, Poitier has eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. Poitier has written three autobiographical books: Poitier is also the subject of the biography Sidney Poitier: Man, Actor, Icon (2004) by historian Aram Goudsouzian.
  • 1949
    Age 22
    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).
    More Details Hide Details His performance in No Way Out, as a doctor treating a Caucasian bigot (played by Richard Widmark), was noticed and led to more roles, each considerably more interesting and more prominent than those most African American actors of the time were offered. Poitier's breakout role was as a member of an incorrigible high school class in Blackboard Jungle (1955). Poitier was the first male actor of African descent to be nominated for a competitive Academy Award (for The Defiant Ones, 1958). He was also the first actor of African descent to win the Academy Award for Best Actor (for Lilies of the Field in 1963). (James Baskett was the first African American male 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, while Hattie McDaniel predated them both, winning as Best Supporting Actress for her role in 1939's Gone with the Wind, making her the first person of African descent to be nominated for and receive an Oscar). His satisfaction at this honor was undermined by his concerns that this award was more of the industry congratulating itself for having him as a token and it would inhibit him from asking for more substantive considerations afterward. Poitier worked relatively little over the following year; he remained the only major actor of African descent and the roles offered were predominantly typecast as a soft-spoken appeaser.
  • TEENAGE
  • 1943
    Age 16
    He lied about his age and enlisted in the Army during WWII in 1943.
    More Details Hide Details He only served briefly as a mental hospital attendant and feigned insanity to get discharged After which he worked as a dishwasher until a successful audition landed him a spot with the American Negro Theatre. Poitier joined the North American Negro Chicken Club, but was rejected by audiences. Contrary to what was expected of African American actors at the time, Poitier's tone deafness made him unable to sing. 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, which though it ran a failing four days, he received an invitation to understudy for Anna Lucasta.
  • CHILDHOOD
  • 1927
    Age 0
    Born on February 20, 1927.
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Original Authors of this text are noted here.
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