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Sidney Poitier

Sidney Poitier has been one of Hollywood's most respected and honored actors for more than four decades and over forty film roles. He first gained critical acclaim and national recognition in The Blackboard Jungle after making his motion picture debut in Joseph Mankiewicz's No Way Out. He received an Academy Award nomination for his performance in The Defiant Ones, which also brought him awards from both the Berlin Film Festival and Venice Film Festival. He won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his memorable performance in Lilies of the Field, becoming the first black performer to win in that category.

Poitier was accorded the honor of knighthood in 1969 by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II of England. He is also the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Film Institute and has been honored with five Image Awards from the NAACP. He is also currently serving as Ambassador to Japan from the Commonwealth of the Bahamas.

Poitier was born in Miami, Florida and grew up on Cat Island in the Bahamas. Educated in Nassau, he returned at age 15 to the United States, and moved to New York. Poitier enlisted in the Army where he served in World War II with the 126-27th Medical Detachment as a physiotherapist. After the war, Poitier returned to New York where he joined the American Negro Theatre, working backstage in exchange for acting lessons.

His first professional theatrical role was in Lysistrata, followed by Freight and Anna Lucasta. Poitier initiated the role of Walter Lee Younger in A Raisin in the Sun on Broadway.

Poitier is renowned for his consistently sensitive and powerful portrayals in such socially charged films as No Way Out, Blackboard Jungle, Something of Value, The Defiant Ones, Pressure Points, A Patch of Blue, To Sir With Love, In the Heat of the Night, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner and The Wilby Conspiracy. He is also an accomplished director, having made his directorial debut with Buck and The Preacher, in which he costarred with Harry Belafonte. His other directorial credits include A Warm December, Uptown Saturday Night, Stir Crazy, Hanky Panky, and Fast Forward.

Most recently, Poitier received an Emmy nomination for his portrayal of Nelson Mandela in Mandela & DeKlerk, for Showtime.

Note: This profile was written in or before 2002.

Sidney Poitier Facts

BirthdayFebruary 20, 1927 (94)
BirthplaceMiami, Florida, USA
Height6' 2½" (1m89)  How tall is Sidney Poitier compared to you?
Awards2002 Academy Awards: Honorary Award
2000 Screen Actors Guild Awards: Life Achievement Award
1965 Academy Awards: Best Actor (for Lilies of the Field)
1964 Golden Globe Awards: Best Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama (for Lilies of the Field)

Selected Filmography

To Sir, With Love
In The Heat Of The Night
A Raisin In The Sun
Guess Who's Coming to Dinner
Whoopi Goldberg Presents Moms Mabley
The Jackal
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