Sidney Poitier biography, plus links to book reviews and book excerpts from books by Sidney Poitier.

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Sidney Poitier

Sidney Poitier

Sidney Poitier Biography

Sidney Poitier was born prematurely on February 20, 1927 on a boat, en route to Miami, Florida.  He grew up in The Bahamas, leaving school when he was thirteen.  When he was 16, he went to live with his brother in Florida.  He served briefly in the US Army before moving to New York where he successfully auditioned for the American Negro Theater. 

His Broadway debut in 1946, was an all-black production of 'Lysistrata'.  Four years later he made his film debut with No Way Out.  His performance in The Blackboard Jungle (1995) brought much praise and in 1958 he earned his first Academy Award nomination for his role in The Defiant Ones.

He was the first African-American to win an Academy Award (Oscar) for "Best Actor in a Leading Role" for Lilies of the Field (1963), and only the second African-American to win an Oscar of any type (Hattie McDaniel won "Best Actress in a Supporting Role for Gone with the Wind, 1940).  During the 1960s he continued to act in many movies including In the Heat of the Night (1967) and Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967).

In 1969, he founded the First Artists Production Company and, in 1972, announced his directorial debut with Buck and the Preacher.  During the 1970s he directed a number of comedies including Stir Crazy (1980) and Ghost Dad (1990).  

In the late 1980s he returned to acting after taking a 10-year break, and appeared in Shoot to Kill (1988), Little Nikita (1988), Sneakers (1992), and One Man, One Vote (1997).  In 1996 he starred in the long-awaited follow-up to his '67 success, To Sir With Love, in the TV movie To Sir With Love 2.

In 2001, he received a Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album for his autobiographical book The Measure of a Man (his second memoir following This Life, published in 1980). In 2002, he received and an honorary Oscar.  Overall, he has starred in more than forty films, directed nine and written four. He published his first novel, Montaro Caine, in 2013.

He was appointed a Knight Commander of the British Empire in 1974.  He has also served as non-resident Bahamian ambassador to Japan and to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.  He is also a recipient of the Screen Actors Guild's highest honor, the Life Achievement Award for an outstanding career and humanitarian accomplishment

He was married to Juanita Hardy from 1950 until 1965; the couple has four children. He is now married to Canadian-born actress Joanna Shimkus, they have two children.

This biography was last updated on 03/14/2013.

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Books by Sidney Poitier at BookBrowse

Recommended in Detail at BookBrowse

The Measure of A Man
The Measure of A Man

by Sidney Poitier

In this luminous memoir, a true American icon looks back on his celebrated life and career.
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All the books below are recommended as readalikes for Sidney Poitier but some maybe more relevant to you than others depending on which books by the author you have read and enjoyed. So look for the suggested read-alikes by title linked on the right.
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  • Alan Alda

    Alan Alda

    Alan Alda played Hawkeye Pierce for eleven years in the television series M*A*S*H and has acted in, written, and directed many feature films. He has starred often on Broadway, and his avid interest in science has led to his ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    The Measure of A Man

    Try:
    Never Have Your Dog Stuffed
    by Alan Alda

  • Lance Armstrong

    Lance Armstrong

    Lance Armstrong was born in September 1971, in Plano, Texas. He became a professional triathlete aged 16 and in 1989 the U.S. Olympic development team invited him to train as cyclist. He placed 11th in the World ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    The Measure of A Man

    Try:
    It's Not About the Bike
    by Lance Armstrong

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