Born in Miami, Florida when parents took a trip there to sell their produce
Raised on Cat Island in the Bahamas
Dropped out of school at age 13
Moved to Miami at age 15 to live with his brother Cyril
Relocated to New York City where he worked as a dishwasher and busboy in restaurants
Served in the US Army as a physiotherapist
Joined American Negro Theater and made stage debut in "Days of Our Youth" as Harry Belafonte's understudy
Broadway debut as understudy for all of the male roles in the American Negro Theater's all-black production of "Lysistrata"
Starred in the Broadway production of "Anna Lucasta"
Film debut, appearing in the Army Corps documentary short, "From Whence Cometh My Help"
Made feature film debut in Darryl F. Zanuck's "No Way Out"
TV acting debut in NBC's "The Philco Television Playhouse"
Received first Academy Award nomination for Stanley Kramer's "The Defiant Ones"; first black male to receive nomination
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
Reprised Broadway role for Daniel Petrie's film version of "A Raisin in the Sun"
Became first Black actor to win an Academy Award for Best Actor for "Lilies of the Field"
Portrayed an African American man, who falls in love with blind white female in "A Patch of Blue"
Had starring roles in three hit movies; "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner," "To Sir, With Love" and "In the Heat of the Night"
Made stage directing debut with Broadway production of "Carry Me Back to Morningside Heights"
Wrote original story for the film "For Love of Ivy"; also starred
Formed First Artists production company with Paul Newman, Barbra Streisand and others
Reprised "In the Heat of the Night" role for the sequel, "They Call Me Mister Tibbs"
Once again reprised role of Virgil Tibbs for the third film, "The Organization"
Feature directorial debut, "Buck and the Preacher"
Directed and starred opposite Bill Cosby in "Let's Do It Again"
Last feature acting role for more than a decade in "A Piece of the Action"; also directed
Directed Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor in "Stir Crazy"; first time directing a feature in which he did not also act
Penned his autobiography, <i>This Life</i>
Returned to acting with roles in Roger Spottiswoode's "Shoot to Kill" and Richard Benjamin's "Little Nikita"
Earned Emmy and Golden Globe nominations for his portrayal of Thurgood Marshall the ABC miniseries "Separate But Equal"
Joined an all-star cast for the high-tech caper, "Sneakers"
Reprised role of Mark Thackaray 30 years later in the Peter Bogdanovich directed, "To Sir, With Love II" (CBS)
Co-starred with Michael Caine for the Showtime miniseries, "Mandela and De Klerk"
Played FBI Deputy Director Carter Preston in Michael Caton-Jones' "The Jackal"
Had lead role in the highly-rated CBS TV-movie "The Simple Life of Noah Dearborn"
Helmed second autobiographical work, <i>The Measure of a Man: A Spiritual Autobiography</i>
Appeared in the CBS telefilm, "The Last Brickmaker in America"
Penned his third book, <i>Life Beyond Measure - letters to my Great-Granddaughter</i>; earned a Grammy nomination for Best Spoken Word for the CD version