Sidney Poitier - African American Men, Family and Childhood

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Sidney Poitier's Personal Details

Sidney Poitier is an actor, director and diplomat who was the first black person to win an Academy Award for Best Actor

InformationDetail
BirthdayFebruary 20, 1927
NationalityAmerican
FamousAfrican American Men, African American Actors, Black Actors, New York University, Film & Theater Personalities, Actors, Directors, Writers, Diplomats
City/StateFlorida
SpousesJoanna Shimkus (m. 1976), Juanita Hardy (m. 1950–1965)
SiblingsCyril Poitier
Known asSir Sidney Poitier
Childrens Sydney Tamiia Poitier
Universities
  • New York University
  • New York University
  • Tisch School of the Arts
  • Stella Adler Studio of Acting
Notable Alumnis
  • New York University
Birth PlaceMiami, Florida, U.S.
Born CountryUnited States
ReligionDeist
Height189cm
GenderMale
FatherReginald James Poitier
MotherEvelyn
Net Worth$25 million as of Jan 15,2017
Sun SignPisces
Born inMiami, Florida, U.S.

// Famous African American Men

Sidney Poitier's photo

Who is Sidney Poitier?

Sir Sidney Poitier is an actor, director and diplomat best known for being the first black person to have been awarded the Academy Award for Best Actor. He won this award for his portrayal of Homer Smith, an African American worker in the film, ‘Lilies of the Field’. This was a very significant achievement in the 1960s when racism was rampant in the United States. Born to poor Bahamian farmer parents, he received little formal education. As a teenager he was turning towards street crime when his father sent him to the United States to start life anew. He received a huge cultural shock in New York where he witnessed widespread racism and chasm between the classes. After struggling to make ends meet as a dishwasher, he joined the American Negro Theater. Through his determination and hard work he soon became a much sought after theatre artist and soon stared receiving film offers. In his debut film ‘No Way Out’ he played a doctor who treats a white bigot. This role got him noticed and he received several offers. After establishing himself as a successful actor, he branched into direction as well. He was named as one of the Greatest Male Stars of All Time by the American Film Institute in 1999.

// Famous Directors

Childhood & Early Life

He was born prematurely to Bahamian parents who were vacationing in Miami; his parents remained in Miami for three months to nurse the weak infant back to health. His parents, Reginald James Poitier and Evelyn were farmers.

He grew up in poverty and was showing signs of becoming delinquent. Concerned, his father sent him to live with his brother in New York. He worked as a dishwasher to make ends meet. He never received any formal education and was taught to read by a Jewish waiter who coached him after working hours.

Career

He joined the American Negro Theater but struggled initially due to his inability to sing and his strong Bahamian accent. He trained hard for the next several months to overcome his weaknesses.

He was given a leading role in the Broadway production, �€˜Lysistrata�€™. His performance was highly acclaimed and he went on to become a popular stage actor. He soon started receiving offers for films.

In 1950 he acted in the film �€˜No Way Out�€™ in which he portrayed a doctor, Dr. Luther Brooks who tends to a white racist patient who dies in the midst of a medical procedure. The role got him rave reviews.

After playing supporting roles in several other films during the early 1950s, he got his breakthrough role in the 1955 social commentary, �€˜Blackboard Jungle�€™, a film based on a novel of the same name by Evan Hunter. Poitier played a student who engages in anti-social behavior.

In 1958 he played Noah Cullen, an escaped prisoner, in the movie �€˜The Defiant Ones�€™. The plot revolves around two escaped prisoners, one black and one white who are shackled together and must co-operate in order to survive. Poitier received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor in a Leading Role.

He starred along with Ruby Dee, Claudia McNeil, Diana Sands and Roy Glenn in the 1961 drama film �€˜A Raisin in the Sun�€™ which was based on the play of the same name by Lorraine Hansberry.

The year 1963 was a very significant one for him. He played Homer Smith in the film �€˜Lilies of the Field�€™ which was produced and directed by Ralph Nelson. His performance was critically appreciated and he won several awards and accolades.

He appeared in the super hit film �€˜A Patch of Blue�€™ in 1965 which was about the relationship between a black man and a blind white girl, and the challenges they face when they fall in love in a racially segregated America.

In 1967 he appeared in the dramatic mystery film �€˜In the Heat of the Night�€™ He played the police officer Virgil Tibbs who becomes involved in a murder investigation in a racist small town. The movie was followed by two sequels �€˜They call me MISTER Tibbs!�€™ in 1970 and �€˜The Organization�€™ in 1971 �€” he reprised the role in both the films.

He made his directorial debut in 1972 with the western film �€˜Buck and the Preacher�€™ in which he also starred as a trail guide. After this movie he went on direct several other successful movies including the comedy �€˜Stir Crazy�€™ in 1980.

He was appointed the Ambassador of the Bahamas to Japan in April 1997, a position he currently holds. He also serves as the Ambassador of the Bahamas to UNESCO.

Major Works

He is best known for his Academy Award winning performance in �€˜Lilies of the Field�€™ in which he played an itinerant worker who helps a group of nuns to build a new chapel. He received several awards for this highly appreciated role.

Awards & Achievements

He won the Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role for the film �€˜Lilies of the Field�€™ in 1963.

He was presented with the Academy Honorary Award in 2002 "for his extraordinary performances and unique presence on the screen and for representing the industry with dignity, style and intelligence".

Personal Life & Legacy

His first marriage was to Juanita Hardy from 1950 to 1965. The couple had four daughters.

He married actress Joanna Shimkus in 1976 with whom he has two daughters.

Trivia

This great black actor is the oldest living man to have won the Academy Award for Best Actor.

// Famous Black Actors

Sidney Poitier awards

YearNameAward

Academy Awards(Oscars)

1964Best Actor in a Leading RoleLilies of the Field (1963)

Golden Globe Awards

1969World Film Favorite - MaleWinner
1964Best Actor - DramaLilies of the Field (1963)

BAFTA Awards

1959Best Foreign ActorThe Defiant Ones (1958)

Grammy Awards

2001Best Spoken Word AlbumWinner

Sidney Poitier biography timelines

  • // 20th Feb 1927
    He was born prematurely to Bahamian parents who were vacationing in Miami; his parents remained in Miami for three months to nurse the weak infant back to health. His parents, Reginald James Poitier and Evelyn were farmers.
  • // 1950
    In 1950 he acted in the film �€˜No Way Out�€™ in which he portrayed a doctor, Dr. Luther Brooks who tends to a white racist patient who dies in the midst of a medical procedure. The role got him rave reviews.
  • // 1950 To 1965
    His first marriage was to Juanita Hardy from 1950 to 1965. The couple had four daughters.
  • // 1955
    After playing supporting roles in several other films during the early 1950s, he got his breakthrough role in the 1955 social commentary, �€˜Blackboard Jungle�€™, a film based on a novel of the same name by Evan Hunter. Poitier played a student who engages in anti-social behavior.
  • // 1958
    In 1958 he played Noah Cullen, an escaped prisoner, in the movie �€˜The Defiant Ones�€™. The plot revolves around two escaped prisoners, one black and one white who are shackled together and must co-operate in order to survive. Poitier received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor in a Leading Role.
  • // 1961
    He starred along with Ruby Dee, Claudia McNeil, Diana Sands and Roy Glenn in the 1961 drama film �€˜A Raisin in the Sun�€™ which was based on the play of the same name by Lorraine Hansberry.
  • // 1963
    The year 1963 was a very significant one for him. He played Homer Smith in the film �€˜Lilies of the Field�€™ which was produced and directed by Ralph Nelson. His performance was critically appreciated and he won several awards and accolades.
  • // 1963
    He won the Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role for the film �€˜Lilies of the Field�€™ in 1963.
  • // 1965
    He appeared in the super hit film �€˜A Patch of Blue�€™ in 1965 which was about the relationship between a black man and a blind white girl, and the challenges they face when they fall in love in a racially segregated America.
  • // 1967 To 1971
    In 1967 he appeared in the dramatic mystery film �€˜In the Heat of the Night�€™ He played the police officer Virgil Tibbs who becomes involved in a murder investigation in a racist small town. The movie was followed by two sequels �€˜They call me MISTER Tibbs!�€™ in 1970 and �€˜The Organization�€™ in 1971 �€” he reprised the role in both the films.
  • // 1972 To 1980
    He made his directorial debut in 1972 with the western film �€˜Buck and the Preacher�€™ in which he also starred as a trail guide. After this movie he went on direct several other successful movies including the comedy �€˜Stir Crazy�€™ in 1980.
  • // 1976
    He married actress Joanna Shimkus in 1976 with whom he has two daughters.
  • // Apr 1997
    He was appointed the Ambassador of the Bahamas to Japan in April 1997, a position he currently holds. He also serves as the Ambassador of the Bahamas to UNESCO.
  • // 2002
    He was presented with the Academy Honorary Award in 2002 "for his extraordinary performances and unique presence on the screen and for representing the industry with dignity, style and intelligence".

// Famous Alumni of New York University

Sidney Poitier's FAQ

  • What is Sidney Poitier birthday?

    Sidney Poitier was born at 1927-02-20

  • Where is Sidney Poitier's birth place?

    Sidney Poitier was born in Miami, Florida, U.S.

  • What is Sidney Poitier nationalities?

    Sidney Poitier's nationalities is American

  • Who is Sidney Poitier spouses?

    Sidney Poitier's spouses is Joanna Shimkus (m. 1976), Juanita Hardy (m. 1950–1965)

  • Who is Sidney Poitier siblings?

    Sidney Poitier's siblings is Cyril Poitier

  • Who is Sidney Poitier childrens?

    Sidney Poitier's childrens is Sydney Tamiia Poitier

  • What was Sidney Poitier universities?

    Sidney Poitier studied at New York University, New York University, Tisch School of the Arts, Stella Adler Studio of Acting

  • What was Sidney Poitier notable alumnis?

    Sidney Poitier's notable alumnis is New York University

  • What is Sidney Poitier's religion?

    Sidney Poitier's religion is Deist

  • How tall is Sidney Poitier?

    Sidney Poitier's height is 189

  • Who is Sidney Poitier's father?

    Sidney Poitier's father is Reginald James Poitier

  • Who is Sidney Poitier's mother?

    Sidney Poitier's mother is Evelyn

  • What is Sidney Poitier's sun sign?

    Sidney Poitier is Pisces