62 Facts About Sidney Poitier

1.

Sidney Poitier was a Bahamian and American actor, film director, and diplomat.

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2.

Sidney Poitier received two competitive Golden Globe Awards, a competitive British Academy of Film and Television Arts award, and a Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album.

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3.

Sidney Poitier was one of the last major stars from the Golden Age of Hollywood cinema.

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4.

Sidney Poitier grew up in the Bahamas, but moved to Miami at age 15, and to New York City when he was 16.

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5.

Sidney Poitier joined the American Negro Theatre, landing his breakthrough film role as a high school student in the film Blackboard Jungle.

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6.

In 1958, Sidney Poitier starred with Tony Curtis as chained-together escaped convicts in The Defiant Ones, which received nine Academy Award nominations; both actors received nominations for Best Actor, with Sidney Poitier's being the first for a Black actor.

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7.

Sidney Poitier received Golden Globe and BAFTA nominations for his performance in the last film, and in a poll the next year he was voted the US's top box-office star.

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8.

Sidney Poitier was granted a knighthood by Queen Elizabeth II in 1974.

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9.

Sidney Poitier was born on February 20, 1927, in Miami, Florida.

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10.

Sidney Poitier was the youngest of seven children born to Evelyn and Reginald James Poitier, Afro-Bahamian farmers who owned a farm on Cat Island.

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11.

Sidney Poitier was born unexpectedly in Miami while his parents were on business; his birth was three months premature, and he was not expected to survive, but his parents remained in Miami for three months to nurse him to health.

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12.

Sidney Poitier grew up in the Bahamas, then a British Crown colony.

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13.

Some believe that the Sidney Poitier ancestors had migrated from Haiti, and were probably among the runaway slaves who established maroon communities throughout the Bahamas, including Cat Island.

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14.

Charles Leonard Sidney Poitier might have been from Haiti originally but had lived in Jamaica previously.

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15.

Sidney Poitier lived with his family on Cat Island until he was ten, when they moved to Nassau.

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16.

Sidney Poitier was raised Catholic but later became an agnostic with views closer to deism.

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17.

At age fifteen, he was sent to Miami to live with his brother's large family, but Sidney Poitier found it impossible to adjust to the racism in Jim Crow era Florida.

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18.

Sidney Poitier was assigned to a Veteran's Administration hospital in Northport, New York, and was trained to work with psychiatric patients.

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19.

Sidney Poitier became upset with how the hospital treated its patients and feigned mental illness to obtain a discharge.

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20.

Sidney Poitier joined the American Negro Theater but was rejected by audiences.

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21.

Sidney Poitier modeled his legendary speech pattern after radio personality Norman Brokenshire.

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22.

In 1947, Sidney Poitier was a founding member of the Committee for the Negro in the Arts, an organization whose participants were committed to a left-wing analysis of class and racial exploitation.

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23.

Sidney Poitier never did sign a loyalty oath, despite being asked in connection with his prospective role in Blackboard Jungle.

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24.

Sidney Poitier enjoyed working for director William Wellman on Good-bye, My Lady.

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25.

Wellman had a sensitivity that Sidney Poitier thought was profound, which Wellman felt he needed to hide.

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26.

Sidney Poitier did win the British Academy Film Award for Best Foreign Actor.

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27.

Sidney Poitier acted in the first production of A Raisin in the Sun alongside Ruby Dee on the Broadway stage at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre in 1959.

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28.

In 1961, Sidney Poitier starred in the film adaptation of A Raisin in the Sun for which he received another Golden Globe Award nomination.

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29.

Also in 1961, Sidney Poitier starred in Paris Blues alongside Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward, Louis Armstrong, and Diahann Carroll.

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30.

Sidney Poitier worked relatively little over the following year; he remained the only major actor of African descent and the roles offered were predominantly typecast as a soft-spoken appeaser.

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31.

In To Sir, with Love, Sidney Poitier plays a teacher at a secondary school in the East End of London.

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32.

The film was met with mixed response; however, Sidney Poitier was praised for his performance, with the critic from Time writing, "Even the weak moments are saved by Sidney Poitier, who invests his role with a subtle warmth.

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33.

In Norman Jewison's mystery drama In the Heat of the Night, Sidney Poitier played Virgil Tibbs, a police detective from Philadelphia who investigates a murder in the deep south in Mississippi alongside a cop with racial prejudices played by Rod Steiger.

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34.

Sidney Poitier received a Golden Globe Award and British Academy Film Award nomination for his performance.

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35.

In Stanley Kramer's social drama Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, Sidney Poitier played a man in a relationship with a White woman played by Katharine Houghton.

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36.

Sidney Poitier was aware of this pattern himself but was conflicted on the matter.

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37.

Sidney Poitier wanted more varied roles; but he felt obliged to set an example with his characters, by challenging old stereotypes, as he was the only major actor of African descent being cast in leading roles in the American film industry at the time.

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38.

Sidney Poitier received Emmy nominations for his work in Separate but Equal and Mandela and de Klerk, as well as a Golden Globe nomination for the former.

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39.

Sidney Poitier won a Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album in 2001.

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40.

In 2002, Sidney Poitier received the 2001 Honorary Academy Award for his overall contribution to American cinema.

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41.

On March 2, 2014, Sidney Poitier appeared with Angelina Jolie at the 86th Academy Awards to present the Best Director Award.

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42.

Sidney Poitier was given a standing ovation and Jolie thanked him for all his Hollywood contributions, stating: "We are in your debt.

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43.

From 1995 to 2003, Sidney Poitier served as a member of the board of directors of The Walt Disney Company.

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44.

Sidney Poitier was first married to Juanita Hardy from April 29, 1950, until 1965.

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45.

In 1959, Sidney Poitier began a nine-year affair with actress Diahann Carroll.

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46.

Sidney Poitier married Joanna Shimkus, a Canadian actress who starred with Poitier in The Lost Man in 1969, on January 23, 1976, and they remained married until his death.

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47.

Sidney Poitier had four daughters with his first wife and two with his second (Anika and Sydney Tamiia).

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48.

On January 6, 2022, Sidney Poitier died at his home in Beverly Hills, California, at the age of 94.

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49.

Sidney Poitier's death was confirmed by Fred Mitchell, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Bahamas.

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50.

Sidney Poitier had a vocal precision and physical power and grace that at moments seemed almost supernatural.

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51.

Sidney Poitier became the first Black actor to win the Academy Award for Best Actor for Lilies of the Field.

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52.

Sidney Poitier received a Grammy Award, two Golden Globe Awards, and a British Academy Film Award.

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53.

Sidney Poitier received numerous honoraries during his lifetime including the Academy Honorary Award for his lifetime achievement in film in 2001.

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54.

In 1995, he received the Kennedy Center Honor and in 2009, Sidney Poitier was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Barack Obama.

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55.

Sidney Poitier was named an honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II in 1974.

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56.

Sidney Poitier was described as an icon in his obituary by USA Today.

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57.

The New York Times noted after his death, that Sidney Poitier was instrumental for the diversity of Hollywood and "paved the way for Black actors in film".

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58.

The Hollywood Reporter wrote that "Sidney Poitier was the first actor to star in mainstream Hollywood movies that depicted a Black man in a non-stereotypical fashion, and his influence, especially during the 1950s and '60s as role model and image-maker, was immeasurable.

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59.

Sidney Poitier was an influential African-American actor and highly viewed as such as he became the first Black actor to be nominated for an Academy Award and the first Black male actor to win the award.

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60.

Sidney Poitier was described as the "sole representative" of African-Americans in mainstream cinema during the 1950s and 1960s, especially during the height of the American Civil Rights movement.

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61.

The New York Times noted that Sidney Poitier was "an ambassador to white America and a benign emblem of Black power".

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62.

Former president of the United States Barack Obama noted that Sidney Poitier had "[advanced] the nation's dialogue on race and respect" and "opened doors for a generation of actors".

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