- Popular Bahamian-American actor and film director. Currently serving as the Bahamian Ambassador to Japan, and also to UNESCO.
- First black man to win the Best Actor Academy Award in 1963.
- Recipient of "Honorary Award" by the Academy in 2001, for "recognition of remarkable achievements as an artist and human being".
Also the recipient of Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor of the U.S., in August 2009.
At 17, he was thrown out of his apartment for not paying rent, and
was subsequently arrested for vagrancy. Yet, he succeeded in defying
racial stereotyping, and broke through as a star in the American film
Sidney Poitier grew up in a small Bahamas island with a population of 4000, no electricity, and where his parents sold tomatoes for a living. He was considered juvenile delinquent during his middle teen years, and at 17, was even arrested for vagrancy in New York City.
He worked a lot of menial jobs during that time, including as a dishwasher, and also got enlisted in the U.S. Army. Eventually, after a successful audition, he tried his luck in the American Negro Theater.
But it wasn't a smooth ride there either, for Poitier,
as he was initially rejected by audiences who didn't see any signs of a
great actor in him. Determined to improve his acting skills, Poitier trained for six months, before giving the theater another shot. And then he was noticed.
Sidney Poitier on CNN's Larry King Live - Part 1
Slowly, more theater roles led him to opportunities to work in films, his first one being No Way Out in 1950. His performance was noticed and led to more interesting and prominent roles compared to what other black actors were getting at that time, although still less than what white actors routinely obtained.
In 1958, he became the first black actor to be nominated for competitive academy award, and eventually landed himself an Oscar in 1963, for his role in the movie Lilies of the Field.
By giving a new
credibility for black actors to the film audiences of the West, Sidney
Poitier became an inspiration for many talented black actors of his time
and beyond. Few of his most popular films include - In the Heat of the Night, To Sir with Love and Guess Who's Coming to Dinner - all released in 1967.
You can find more about Sidney Poitier biography in his book titled