Biography: Sidney Poitier, actor, film director, and ambassador.

Sidney Poitier

Sidney Poitier is an actor, film director, and ambassador. born in February 20, 1927,  he was the first African American and first Bahamian to win the Academy Award for Best Actor.

Early years:

Sidney Poitier was born in Miami, Florida, on February 20, 1927, to Evelyn (née Outten) and Reginald James Poitier, Bahamian farmers who owned a farm on Cat Island, who had seven children together. To sell tomatoes and other crops, the family would fly to Miami. In Nassau, his father likewise worked as a taxi driver. [Poitier was born three months prematurely in Miami when his parents were traveling; he was not expected to survive, but his parents stayed in Miami for three months to nurse him back to health. Poitier was born and raised in the Bahamas, which was then a British Crown territory. He was automatically granted U.S. citizenship as a result of his (unintended) birth in the country.


Poitier joined the American Negro Theater, but audiences turned him down. Poitier’s tone deafness prevented him from singing, contrary to what was expected of black performers at the time. He spent the following six months devoted to obtaining theatrical success, determined to improve his acting talents and get rid of his prominent Bahamian accent. Norman Brokenshire, a radio personality, was the inspiration for his famed speech style. On his second try at the theater, he was spotted and offered a prominent part in the Broadway production of Lysistrata, for which he earned an invitation to understudy for Anna Lucasta, despite the play’s failure.

Poitier peaked in 1967 with three of the year’s most notable movies: “To Sir, With Love,” in which he starred as a school teacher who wins over his unruly students at a London secondary school; “In the Heat of the Night,” as the determined police detective Virgil Tibbs; and in “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,” as the prominent doctor who wishes to marry a young white woman he only recently met, her parents played by Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn in their final film together. Apnews

sidney poitier
(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

Awards and honors:

  • Poitier became the first Black actor to win the Academy Award for Best Actor for Lilies of the Field (1963).
  • He also received a Grammy Award.
  • Two Golden Globe Awards,
  • A British Academy Film Award.
  • Academy Honorary Award for his lifetime achievement in film in 2001.

More Awards

On January 6, 2022, Poitier died at his home in Los Angeles, California, at the age of 94.


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