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
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
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
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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