Sidney Poitier

Sidney Poitier

Sidney Poitier 1968.jpg
Poitier in 1968
Born(1927-02-20)February 20, 1927
Miami, Florida, U.S.
DiedJanuary 6, 2022(2022-01-06) (aged 94)
Nationality
  • American
  • Bahamian
Occupation
  • Actor
  • film director
  • diplomat
Years active1946–2009
Works
Full list
Spouse(s)
Juanita Hardy
(m. 1950; div. 1965)
(m. 1976)
Partner(s)Diahann Carroll (1959–1968)
Children6, including Sydney
AwardsFull list
Ambassador of the Bahamas
1997–2007Ambassador to Japan
2002–2007Ambassador to UNESCO

Sidney Poitier KBE (/ˈpwɑːtj/ PWAH-tyay;[1] February 20, 1927 – January 6, 2022) was a Bahamian-American actor, film director, and diplomat. In 1963, he was the first Black actor and first Bahamian to win the Academy Award for Best Actor.[2] He received two competitive Golden Globe Awards, a competitive British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA), and a Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album. Poitier was one of the last major stars from the Golden Age of Hollywood cinema.

Poitier's family lived in the Bahamas, then still a Crown colony, but he was born unexpectedly in Miami, Florida, while they were visiting, which automatically granted him U.S. citizenship. He grew up in the Bahamas, but moved to Miami at age 15, and to New York City when he was 16. He joined the American Negro Theatre, landing his breakthrough film role as a high school student in the film Blackboard Jungle (1955). In 1958, Poitier starred with Tony Curtis as chained-together escaped convicts in The Defiant Ones, which received nine Academy Award nominations; both actors received nominations for Best Actor, with Poitier's being the first for a Black actor. They both also had Best Actor nominations for the BAFTAs, with Poitier winning. In 1964, he won the Academy Award and the Golden Globe for Best Actor[3][note 1] for Lilies of the Field (1963), playing a handyman helping a group of German-speaking nuns build a chapel.[4]

Poitier also received acclaim for Porgy and Bess (1959), A Raisin in the Sun (1961), and A Patch of Blue (1965). He continued to break ground in three successful 1967 films which dealt with issues of race and race relations: To Sir, with Love; Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, and In the Heat of the Night, the latter of which won the Academy Award for Best Picture for that year. He received Golden Globe and BAFTA nominations for his performance in the last film, and in a poll the next year he was voted the US's top box-office star.[5] Beginning in the 1970s, Poitier also directed various comedy films, including Stir Crazy (1980), starring Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder, among other films. After nearly a decade away from acting, he returned to television and film starring in Shoot to Kill (1988) and Sneakers (1992).

Poitier was granted a knighthood by Queen Elizabeth II in 1974.[6][7] In 1982, he received the Golden Globe Cecil B. DeMille Award. In 1995, he received the Kennedy Center Honor. From 1997 to 2007, he was the Bahamian Ambassador to Japan.[8] In 1999, he ranked 22nd among male actors on the "100 Years...100 Stars" list by the American Film Institute and received the Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award.[9][10] In 2002, he was given an Honorary Academy Award, in recognition of his "remarkable accomplishments as an artist and as a human being".[11] In 2009, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the United States, by President Barack Obama.[12] In 2016, he was awarded the BAFTA Fellowship for outstanding lifetime achievement in film.[7]

  1. ^ "Say How?" A Pronunciation Guide to Names of Public Figures" Archived August 30, 2021, at the Wayback Machine, The National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled (NLS), Library of Congress.
  2. ^ Kaufman, Dave (April 14, 1964). "Sidney Poitier First Black Ever To Receive 'Best Actor' Oscar". Variety. Archived from the original on July 9, 2021. Retrieved February 20, 2021.
  3. ^ Goodykoontz, Bill (February 25, 2014). "Oscar win proved Sidney Poitier was second to none". USA Today. Archived from the original on May 4, 2014. Retrieved August 10, 2014.
  4. ^ Awards for Sidney Poitier at IMDb
  5. ^ "Top Ten Money Making Stars". Quigley Publishing Co. Archived from the original on January 14, 2013. Retrieved August 30, 2009.
  6. ^ "Award of Honorary Knight Commander of the British Empire (KBE) to Sidney Poitier, actor... | The National Archives". Discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk. Archived from the original on February 5, 2020. Retrieved February 5, 2020.
  7. ^ a b "Sidney Poitier to be Honoured with BAFTA Fellowship". BAFTA. January 12, 2016. Archived from the original on March 12, 2017. Retrieved June 10, 2017.
  8. ^ "Legendary Actor Sidney Poitier Dead at 94". NBC. Archived from the original on January 7, 2022. Retrieved January 7, 2022.
  9. ^ "Sidney Poitier". goldenglobes.com. Archived from the original on March 6, 2021. Retrieved February 20, 2021.
  10. ^ "The 6th annual screen actors guild awards". sagawards.org. Archived from the original on March 7, 2021. Retrieved February 20, 2021.
  11. ^ "Sidney Poitier awards: Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences awards database". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. January 29, 2010. Archived from the original on January 14, 2012. Retrieved August 10, 2014.
  12. ^ McCann, Ruth; Anne E. Kornblut (September 13, 2009). "Sidney Poitier, Sen. Ted Kennedy Among 16 Who Receive Medal of Freedom". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on November 11, 2017. Retrieved August 10, 2014.


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