Sidney Poitier

Actor, Director, Writer
As elegant and quietly commanding a personality as ever graced motion pictures, Sidney Poitier came to the fore of American culture in the 1950s and 1960s as a fine actor, and as an ambassador of America's long-delayed ... Read more »
Born: 02/20/1927 in Miami, Florida, USA

Filmography

Actor (100)

Oprah's Master Class: Civil Rights Special 2014 - 2015 (TV Show)

Interviewee

Oprah Presents: Master Class 2013 - 2014 (Tv Show)

Himself

The 86th Annual Academy Awards 2013 - 2014 (TV Show)

Presenter

The 43rd NAACP Image Awards 2011 - 2012 (TV Show)

Actor

The 69th Annual Golden Globes Awards 2011 - 2012 (TV Show)

Presenter

Whoopi Goldberg Presents Moms Mabley 2012 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

The 33rd Annual Kennedy Center Honors 2010 - 2011 (TV Show)

Actor

Sing Your Song 2010 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

The 39th Annual NAACP Image Awards 2007 - 2008 (TV Show)

Actor

Oprah Winfrey Oscar Special 2006 - 2007 (TV Show)

Actor

2005 Black Movie Awards 2005 - 2006 (TV Show)

Actor

Tell Them Who You Are 2005 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

10th Annual Trumpet Awards 2001 - 2002 (TV Show)

Actor

Muhammad Ali's 60th Birthday Celebration 2001 - 2002 (TV Show)

Actor

The 74th Annual Academy Awards 2001 - 2002 (TV Show)

Actor

Changing Stages 2000 - 2001 (TV Show)

Actor

The 32nd NAACP Image Awards 2000 - 2001 (TV Show)

Actor

Richard Widmark: Strength of Characters 1999 - 2000 (TV Show)

Actor

The 6th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards 1999 - 2000 (TV Show)

Actor

David and Lisa 1998 - 1999 (TV Show)

Actor

The 70th Annual Academy Awards 1997 - 1998 (TV Show)

Actor

The Kennedy Center Honors 1997 - 1998 (TV Show)

Actor

The 1997 ESPY Awards 1996 - 1997 (TV Show)

Actor

The Jackal 1997 (Movie)

Carter Preston--FBI Deputy Director (Actor)

James Earl Jones 1995 - 1996 (TV Show)

Actor

To Sir With Love II 1995 - 1996 (TV Show)

Actor

Children of the Dust 1994 - 1995 (TV Show)

Actor

Hollywood Stars: A Century of Cinema 1994 - 1995 (TV Show)

Actor

Back to School '92 1992 - 1993 (TV Show)

Actor

The Great Ones: The National Sports Awards 1992 - 1993 (TV Show)

Actor

AFI Salute to Sidney Poitier 1991 - 1992 (TV Show)

Actor

Sneakers 1992 (Movie)

Crease (Actor)

World Beat 1992 (Movie)

(Actor)

Celebrate the Soul of American Music 1990 - 1991 (TV Show)

Actor

Sinatra 75: The Best Is Yet to Come 1990 - 1991 (TV Show)

Actor

The 22nd Annual NAACP Image Awards 1989 - 1990 (TV Show)

Actor

Voyager: Rendezvous With Neptune 1988 - 1989 (TV Show)

Actor

Little Nikita 1988 (Movie)

Roy Parmenter (Actor)

Shoot to Kill 1988 (Movie)

Warren Stantin (Actor)

Bopha! 1986 - 1987 (TV Show)

Narrator

The Night of 100 Stars II 1984 - 1985 (TV Show)

Actor

A Piece of the Action 1977 (Movie)

Manny Durrell (Actor)

Let's Do It Again 1975 (Movie)

Clyde Williams (Actor)

The Wilby Conspiracy 1974 (Movie)

Shack Twala (Actor)

Uptown Saturday Night 1974 (Movie)

Steve Jackson (Actor)

A Warm December 1971 (Movie)

Dr Younger (Actor)

Brother John 1971 (Movie)

John Kane (Actor)

Buck and the Preacher 1971 (Movie)

Buck (Actor)

The Organization 1970 (Movie)

Virgil Tibbs (Actor)

The Lost Man 1969 (Movie)

Jason Higgs (Actor)

They Call Me Mr. Tibbs 1969 (Movie)

Virgil Tibbs (Actor)

For Love of Ivy 1968 (Movie)

Jack Parks (Actor)

ABC Stage '67 1966 - 1967 (TV Show)

Actor

In the Heat of the Night 1967 (Movie)

Virgil Tibbs (Actor)

To Sir With Love 1967 (Movie)

Mark Thackeray (Actor)

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner 1966 (Movie)

John Wade Prentice (Actor)

Duel at Diablo 1965 (Movie)

Toller (Actor)

The Bedford Incident 1965 (Movie)

Ben Munceford (Actor)

The Greatest Story Ever Told 1965 (Movie)

Simon of Cyrene (Actor)

A Patch of Blue 1964 (Movie)

Gordon Ralfe (Actor)

The Slender Thread 1964 (Movie)

Alan Newell (Actor)

Lilies of the Field 1963 (Movie)

Homer Smith (Actor)

The Long Ships 1963 (Movie)

Aly Mansuh (Actor)

Pressure Point 1962 (Movie)

Doctor (Actor)

A Raisin in the Sun 1961 (Movie)

Walter Lee Younger (Actor)

Paris Blues 1961 (Movie)

Eddie Cook (Actor)

All the Young Men 1960 (Movie)

Towler (Actor)

Virgin Island 1959 (Movie)

Marcus (Actor)

Porgy and Bess 1958 (Movie)

Porgy (Actor)

The Defiant Ones 1958 (Movie)

Noah Cullen (Actor)

The Mark of the Hawk 1958 (Movie)

Obam (Actor)

Band of Angels 1957 (Movie)

Rau-Ru (Actor)

Something of Value 1957 (Movie)

Kimani (Actor)

Edge of the City 1956 (Movie)

Tommy Tyler (Actor)

Good-Bye, My Lady 1956 (Movie)

(Actor)

Blackboard Jungle 1955 (Movie)

Gregory W Miller (Actor)

Go, Man, Go! 1954 (Movie)

Inman Jackson (Actor)

Cry, the Beloved Country 1952 (Movie)

Rev. Msimangu (Actor)

Red Ball Express 1952 (Movie)

(Actor)

Children of the Dust (Movie)

Gypsy Smith (Actor)

Free of Eden (TV Show)

Actor

Mandela and de Klerk (TV Show)

Actor

Quincy Jones: In the Pocket (TV Show)

Actor

Separate But Equal (TV Show)

Actor
Director (9)

Ghost Dad 1990 (Movie)

(Director)

Fast Forward 1985 (Movie)

(Director)

Hanky Panky 1982 (Movie)

(Director)

Stir Crazy 1980 (Movie)

(Director)

A Piece of the Action 1977 (Movie)

(Director)

Let's Do It Again 1975 (Movie)

(Director)

Uptown Saturday Night 1974 (Movie)

(Director)

A Warm December 1971 (Movie)

(Director)

Buck and the Preacher 1971 (Movie)

(Director)
Writer (1)

For Love of Ivy 1968 (Movie)

(From Story)

Biography

As elegant and quietly commanding a personality as ever graced motion pictures, Sidney Poitier came to the fore of American culture in the 1950s and 1960s as a fine actor, and as an ambassador of America's long-delayed civil rights movement. While other actors and actresses of color made impact before and after him, Poitier in his time leveraged his mesmerizing screen presence into a culture-changing force. His very first film set off a chain of events that freed his native Bahamas of British colonial rule, and from there he not only became the first black Best Actor Oscar winner - for "Lilies of the Field" (1963) - but was the number-one box-office draw in 1967 in a triumvirate of movies: "In the Heat of the Night" (1967), "To Sir, with Love" (1967) and "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?" (1967). The regal Poitier's influence as an admirable role model of any color could not be underestimated. As he phased himself out of entertainment, his worldwide prestige would allow his native Bahamas to call on him to take on the new role of diplomat and representative to the United Nations. Simply put, Sidney Poitier became a beloved national treasure and symbol of a struggle almost as old as the United States itself.

Relationships

Diahann Carroll Actor

Companion
Had a long-term and much publicized private affair, which began after they starred together in "Paris Blues" (1961); Poitier was married at the time to Joanna Shimkus

Juanita Hardy

Wife
Married April 29, 1950 Divorced in 1965

Reginald Poitier

Father
Bahamian; from Cat Island in the Bahamas

Sydney Tamiia Poitier Actor

Daughter
Born Nov. 15, 1973; mother, Joanna Shimkus Acted with father in the Showtime movie "Free of Eden" (1999)

Anika Poitier Actor

Daughter
Born Feb. 29. 1972; mother, Joanna Shimkus

Evelyn Poitier

Mother
Bahamian; from Cat Island in the Bahamas

Gina Poitier

Daughter
Mother, Juanita Hardy

Pamela Poitier Actor

Daughter
Born c. 1952; mother, Juanita Hardy

Sherri Poitier Actor

Daughter
Born c. 1953; mother, Juanita Hardy

Cyril Poitier Actor

Brother
Born Nov. 11, 1911; oldest brother; helped raise Sidney; moved to Miami from Cat Island in 1929 Had bit roles in brother's movies "Uptown Saturday Night" (1974), "Let's Do it Again" (1975), and "A Piece of the Action" (1977) Died Nov. 13, 1991 of cancer

Beverly Poitier-Henderson Actor

Daughter
Born c. 1951; mother, Juanita Hardy

Joanna Shimkus Actor

Wife
Met in Paris while co-starring in "The Lost Man" (1969) Married Jan. 23, 1976

EDUCATION

Had only a year and a half of formal schooling from age 11 to 13

Trained for the stage with Paul Mann and Lloyd Richards

Milestones

2008

Penned his third book, Life Beyond Measure - letters to my Great-Granddaughter; earned a Grammy nomination for Best Spoken Word for the CD version

2001

Appeared in the CBS telefilm, "The Last Brickmaker in America"

2000

Helmed second autobiographical work, The Measure of a Man: A Spiritual Autobiography

1999

Had lead role in the highly-rated CBS TV-movie "The Simple Life of Noah Dearborn"

1997

Played FBI Deputy Director Carter Preston in Michael Caton-Jones' "The Jackal"

1997

Co-starred with Michael Caine for the Showtime miniseries, "Mandela and De Klerk"

1996

Reprised role of Mark Thackaray 30 years later in the Peter Bogdanovich directed, "To Sir, With Love II" (CBS)

1992

Joined an all-star cast for the high-tech caper, "Sneakers"

1991

Earned Emmy and Golden Globe nominations for his portrayal of Thurgood Marshall the ABC miniseries "Separate But Equal"

1988

Returned to acting with roles in Roger Spottiswoode's "Shoot to Kill" and Richard Benjamin's "Little Nikita"

1980

Penned his autobiography, This Life

1980

Directed Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor in "Stir Crazy"; first time directing a feature in which he did not also act

1977

Last feature acting role for more than a decade in "A Piece of the Action"; also directed

1975

Directed and starred opposite Bill Cosby in "Let's Do It Again"

1972

Feature directorial debut, "Buck and the Preacher"

1970

Once again reprised role of Virgil Tibbs for the third film, "The Organization"

1969

Reprised "In the Heat of the Night" role for the sequel, "They Call Me Mister Tibbs"

1968

Formed First Artists production company with Paul Newman, Barbra Streisand and others

1968

Wrote original story for the film "For Love of Ivy"; also starred

1968

Made stage directing debut with Broadway production of "Carry Me Back to Morningside Heights"

1967

Had starring roles in three hit movies; "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner," "To Sir, With Love" and "In the Heat of the Night"

1965

Portrayed an African American man, who falls in love with blind white female in "A Patch of Blue"

1963

Became first Black actor to win an Academy Award for Best Actor for "Lilies of the Field"

1961

Reprised Broadway role for Daniel Petrie's film version of "A Raisin in the Sun"

1959

Returned to Broadway in Lorraine Hansberry's "A Raisin in the Sun"; first Broadway play written by a black woman; also first time a black man (Lloyd Richards) directed a Broadway show

1958

Received first Academy Award nomination for Stanley Kramer's "The Defiant Ones"; first black male to receive nomination

1952

TV acting debut in NBC's "The Philco Television Playhouse"

1950

Made feature film debut in Darryl F. Zanuck's "No Way Out"

1949

Film debut, appearing in the Army Corps documentary short, "From Whence Cometh My Help"

1947

Starred in the Broadway production of "Anna Lucasta"

1946

Broadway debut as understudy for all of the male roles in the American Negro Theater's all-black production of "Lysistrata"

1944

Joined American Negro Theater and made stage debut in "Days of Our Youth" as Harry Belafonte's understudy

1941

Moved to Miami at age 15 to live with his brother Cyril

1940

Served in the US Army as a physiotherapist

1940

Dropped out of school at age 13

Relocated to New York City where he worked as a dishwasher and busboy in restaurants

Born in Miami, Florida when parents took a trip there to sell their produce

Raised on Cat Island in the Bahamas

Bonus Trivia

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"You could characterize my career as a fairly successful and substantive one if you were to look at all 42 films I've made. Most of the scripts I did were written by whites. To require a white person to write only for whites is stupid. To require me to write only for blacks is also stupid." - Poitier speaking at the American Film Institute's Center for Advanced Film and Television Studies seminar (quoted in American Film, September/October 1991)

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He was given the William J German Human Relations Award from the American Jewish Committee in 1966.

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Poitier was decorated Knight Commander for the Order of the British Empire (1974).

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In 1993, Poitier received the Thurgood Marshall Lifetime Award for his longstanding committment to civil rights and excellence in the portrayal of minorities in the film and entertainment industry.

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In 1997, Poitier was named the Bahamas' ambassador to Japan; the actor holds dual citizenship.

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"No one expected that the son of a tomato farmer and a semi-literate lady would ever make a stir of any consequence. I flirted with reform school. I was an incorrigible kid to some extent. I didn't know where I was, who I was, or what I was. And the society in which I lived didn't care too much.There was a teacher in the Carribean. His name was Mr Fawkes and he taught like Thackeray [Poitier's character in "To Sir With Love"]. He was so remarkable. He used to tell us stories about those places beyond our limited horizon. He stimulated our imagination and nurtured it. I learned how to daydream and that, after all, is what I apply when I work nowadays." - Poitier to the Daily News, April 7, 1996

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In 2006, Poitier was named a commander in France's order of arts and letters at the Cannes Film Festival.

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