Sidney Poitier

Sidney Poitier

Sidney Poitier-NPS (cropped).jpg
Born (1927-02-20) February 20, 1927 (age 91)
Miami, Florida, U.S.
Citizenship Bahamas
 United States
OccupationActor, director, author, diplomat
Years active1947–present
Children6, including Sydney Tamiia Poitier
Military career
Allegiance United States
Service/branchSeal of the United States Department of War.png United States Army
Years of service1943–1944
Bahamian Ambassador to Japan
In office
1997 – 2007[1]

Sir Sidney Poitier, KBE[2] (/; born February 20, 1927) is a Bahamian-American actor, film director, author, and diplomat.

In 1964,[3] Poitier became the first Bahamian and first black actor to win an Academy Award for Best Actor, and the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor[a] for his role in Lilies of the Field.[4] The significance of these achievements was bolstered in 1967, when he starred in three successful films, all of which dealt with issues involving race and race relations: 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.[5] In 1999, the American Film Institute named Poitier among the Greatest Male Stars of classic Hollywood cinema, ranking 22nd on the list of 25.

Poitier has directed a number of films, including Uptown Saturday Night, Let's Do It Again, and A Piece of the Action, with Bill Cosby; Stir Crazy, starring Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder; and Ghost Dad, also with Cosby. In 2002, thirty-eight years after receiving the Best Actor Award, Poitier was chosen by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to receive an Academy Honorary Award, in recognition of his "remarkable accomplishments as an artist and as a human being".[6]

Poitier was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1974.[7] From 1997 to 2007, he served as the Bahamian Ambassador to Japan.[8] On August 12, 2009, Poitier was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States' highest civilian honor, by President Barack Obama.[9] In 2016, he was awarded the BAFTA Fellowship for outstanding lifetime achievement in film.[7]

Early life

Sidney Poitier's parents were Evelyn (née Outten) and Reginald James Poitier,[10] 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.[11] Poitier was the youngest of seven surviving children,[12] and 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.[13] Poitier grew up in the Bahamas, then a British Crown colony. Because of his birth in the United States, he automatically received American citizenship.[13] Poitier's uncle has claimed that the Poitier ancestors on his father's side had migrated from Haiti[14] and were probably among the runaway slaves who 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.[15]

The name Poitier actually came from a planter of English heritage who immigrated to Cat Island from Jamaica in the early 1800s. His name was Charles Leonard Poitier. In 1834, his wife's estate on Cat Island had 86 slaves, 39 males and 47 females. The slaves kept the name Poitier, a name that was introduced into England during the Norman conquest in the 11th century. That is where the Poitier name actually came from - not from Haiti.[16]

Poitier lived with his family on Cat Island until he was 10, when they moved to Nassau, where he saw his first automobile, first experienced electricity, plumbing, refrigeration, and motion pictures.[17][18] He was raised a Roman Catholic[19] but, later became an agnostic[20] with views closer to deism.[21]

At the age of 15, he was sent to Miami to live with his brother's large family. At the age of 16, he moved to New York City and held a string of jobs as a dishwasher. A waiter sat with him every night for several weeks helping him learn to read the newspaper.[22] He lied about his age and enlisted in the Army during World War II in 1943. He only served briefly as a mental hospital attendant and feigned insanity to get discharged,[23] after which he worked as a dishwasher until a successful audition landed him a spot with the American Negro Theater.[24][25]

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Sidney Poitier
aragonés: Sidney Poitier
asturianu: Sidney Poitier
azərbaycanca: Sidni Puatye
беларуская: Сідні Пуацье
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Сыдні Пуат’е
български: Сидни Поатие
bosanski: Sidney Poitier
čeština: Sidney Poitier
español: Sidney Poitier
Esperanto: Sidney Poitier
estremeñu: Sidney Poitier
français: Sidney Poitier
Bahasa Indonesia: Sidney Poitier
italiano: Sidney Poitier
ქართული: სიდნი პუატიე
kernowek: Sidney Poitier
Kreyòl ayisyen: Sidney Poitier
latviešu: Sidnijs Puatjē
Lëtzebuergesch: Sidney Poitier
Malagasy: Sidney Poitier
მარგალური: სიდნი პუატიე
Nederlands: Sidney Poitier
norsk nynorsk: Sidney Poitier
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Sidney Poitier
Piemontèis: Sidney Poitier
português: Sidney Poitier
română: Sidney Poitier
Runa Simi: Sidney Poitier
русский: Пуатье, Сидни
Simple English: Sidney Poitier
slovenčina: Sidney Poitier
српски / srpski: Сидни Поатје
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Sidney Poitier
Basa Sunda: Sidney Poitier
Türkçe: Sidney Poitier
українська: Сідні Пуатьє
Tiếng Việt: Sidney Poitier
Yorùbá: Sidney Poitier