Sidney Poitier


Actor
Sidney Poitier

About

Also Known As
Sir Sidney Poitier
Birth Place
Miami, Florida, USA
Born
February 20, 1927

Biography

"Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?" returned Poitier to the familiar turf of "Negro problem" pictures, but with a contemporized twist: instead of battling the unabashed ignorance of racist America, he found himself opposite sophisticated Northerners played by Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy (in his last film). The grand old screen duo played an ostensibly enlightened couple who find thei...

Photos & Videos

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner - Movie Poster
The Slender Thread - Movie Poster
Lilies of the Field - Movie Posters

Family & Companions

Juanita Hardy
Wife
Dancer. Married on April 29, 1950; divorced in 1965.
Diahann Carroll
Companion
Actor, singer.
Joanna Shimkus
Wife
Actor. Married on January 23, 1976; born in 1943; met in Paris while co-starring in "The Lost Man" (1969).

Bibliography

"The Measure of a Man: A Spiritual Autobiography"
Sidney Poitier, HarperCollins (2000)
"The Films of Sidney Poitier"
Sidney Poitier with Carol Bergman, Chelsea House (1988)
"This Life"
Sidney Poitier, Alfred A. Knopf (1980)
"The Cinema of Sidney Poitier"
Lester J. Keyser and Andre H. Ruszkowski, A.S. Barnes & Co. Inc. (1980)

Notes

Poiter was rated the Number 7 top money-making star in the 1967 Quigley poll of exhibitors, and placed Number 1 in 1968.

"You could characterize my career as a fairly successful and substantive one if you were to look at all 42 films I've made. Most of the scripts I did were written by whites. To require a white person to write only for whites is stupid. To require me to write only for blacks is also stupid." --Sidney Poitier at American Film Institute's Center for Advanced Film and Television Studies seminar (quoted in American Film, September/October 1991)

Biography

"Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?" returned Poitier to the familiar turf of "Negro problem" pictures, but with a contemporized twist: instead of battling the unabashed ignorance of racist America, he found himself opposite sophisticated Northerners played by Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy (in his last film). The grand old screen duo played an ostensibly enlightened couple who find their liberal sensibilities strained when their daughter brings home her fiancé, an older, divorced doctor, who just happens to be Poitier. Again under Kramer's direction, the picture parlayed the myriad pitfalls of the stark realities simple "love" still faced, given the country's darkly drawn racial lines, especially at the zenith of the civil rights movement; the Supreme Court had just that summer struck down 14 Southern states' standing laws against interracial marriages, and Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated while the film was still in theaters. The film's heady discourse struck a chord, taking in a for-the-time whopping $56.7 million at the box office in North America. But Poitier's most dauntlessly cool performance came in "In the Heat of the Night," a steamy neo-noir that set Poitier in the heart of the deep South - still so blatantly segregated that Poitier nixed location shooting in Mississippi, prompting the production to move to tiny Sparta, IL. Poitier played a Philadelphia homicide detective, Virgil Tibbs, initially accused of a murder in a hick Mississippi town, who then assists the local Sheriff Gillespie (Rod Steiger) solve the case. Under the deft direction of Norman Jewison, Poitier and Steiger played a dueling character study; a sophisticated black authority the likes of which the town has never seen versus an abrasive, outwardly racist yokel stereotype more enlightened and thoughtful than he lets on. The film also proved a hit, winning Oscars for Best Picture and Best Actor (Steiger). Poitier's three films in 1967 made him, by total box-office receipts, the No. 1 box-office draw in Hollywood. And yet, even in the thick of his success, Poitier's singular identification as the spokesman for African-Americans came with proportionate scrutiny. While he had embraced the civil rights movement publicly - he keynoted the annual convention of Martin Luther King's activist Southern Christian Leadership Conference in August 1967 - some in the African-American community (as well as some film critics) began vocalizing their displeasure with the never-ending string of saintly and sexless characters Poitier played. Black playwright and drama critic Clifford Mason became the sounding board for these sentiments in an analysis published on the front page of The New York Times' drama section on Sept. 10, 1967. Mason referred to Poitier's characters as "unreal" and essentially "the same role, the antiseptic, one-dimensional hero." Although devastated by the attacks, Poitier himself had begun to chafe against the cultural restrictions which cast him as the unimpeachable role model instead of a fully flawed and functioning human. Sidney Poitier attempted to take a greater hand in his work, penning a romantic comedy that he would star in called "For the Love of Ivy" (1968), and attempting a more visceral representation of the travails of inner city America in "The Lost Man" (1969), but neither met the success of his previous films or effectively muted his critics. The Times' Vincent Canby called the latter, "Poitier's attempt to recognize the existence and root causes of black militancy without making anyone - white or black - feel too guilty or hopeless." He also founded a creator-controlled studio, First Artists Corp., with partners Paul Newman and Barbra Streisand. But his damaged image, amid an up-and-coming crop of black actors unencumbered by his "integrationist" stigma, enforced a sense of isolation about Poitier, likely amplified by a falling out with his longtime friend Belafonte and his estrangement from wife Juanita. Some of that oddly went reflected in an unlikely, blaxploitation-infused sequel, "They Call Me MISTER Tibbs!" (1970), in which he reprised his classic character to ill-effect. By 1970, Poitier had struck up a passionate new romance with Canadian model Joanna Shimkus and exiled himself to a semi-permanent residence in The Bahamas. He would make one more forgettable Tibbs sequel, "The Organization" (1971), but he would return to Hollywood in a different capacity. With Hollywood now recognizing the power of the black purse, even for cheaply produced "blaxploitation" pictures, Columbia saw the potential for "Buck and the Preacher" (1972), in which Harry Belafonte and Poitier would play mismatched Western adventurers who team up to save homesteading former slaves from cowboy predators. Belafonte co-produced and Poitier, after initial squabbles with the director, was given reign and Poitier, after initial squabbles with the director, was given reign by the studio to complete the film in the director's chair. He produced, directed and starred in his next outing, a tepid romance called "A Warm December" (1973), which tanked, but he found his stride soon after back among friends. He directed and starred with Belafonte, Bill Cosby and an up-and-coming Richard Pryor in their answer to the blaxploitation wave, "Uptown Saturday Night" (1974), an action/comedy romp about two regular guys (Cosby and Poitier) whose devil-may-care night out becomes an odyssey through the criminal underworld. "Uptown" proved such a winning combo that Poitier would make two more successful buddy pictures starring himself and Cosby: "Let's Do it Again" (1975) and "A Piece of the Action" (1977). Poitier also returned to Africa and an actor-only capacity for another anti-apartheid film, "The Wilby Conspiracy" (1975), co-starring Michael Caine. After marrying Shimkus in 1976, he returned to the States most notably to direct Pryor's own buddy picture; the second comedy pairing Pryor with Gene Wilder, "Stir Crazy" (1980), a story about two errant New Yorkers framed for a crime in the west and imprisoned. With Poitier letting the two actors' fish-out-of-water comic talents play off their austere environs, the film became one of highest-grossing comedies of all time. A later outing with Wilder, "Hanky Panky" (1982), and a last directorial turn with Cosby, the infamous flop "Ghost Dad" (1990), proved profoundly less successful. After more than a decade absent from the screen, Poitier made a celebrated return as an actor in the 1988 action flick "Shoot to Kill" and the espionage thriller "Little Nikita" (1988), though both proved less than worthy of the milestone. He would take parts rarely after that; only those close to his heart in big-budget TV movie events: NAACP lawyer -later the U.S.'s first African-American Supreme Court justice - Thurgood Marshall in "Separate But Equal" (ABC, 1991), Nelson Mandela, the heroic South African dissident and later president, in "Nelson & De Klerk" (Showtime, 1997), and "To Sir, With Love II" (CBS, 1996). He also took some choice supporting roles in feature actioners "Sneakers" (1992) and "The Jackal" (1997). In 1997, the Bahamas appointed Poitier its ambassador to Japan, and has also made him a representative to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. In 1999, the American Film Institute ranked Poitier No. 22 in the top 25 male screen legends, and in 2006, the AFI's list of the "100 Most Inspiring Movies of All Time" tabulated more Poitier films than those of any other actor except Gary Cooper (both had five). In 2002, he was given an Honorary Oscar with the inscription, "To Sidney Poitier in recognition of his remarkable accomplishments as an artist and as a human being," and in 2009, President Barack Obama awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom. trade, accepts one teaching marginal, troubled cockney students in London and reached them via honest empathy and by treating them as adults. Buoyed by the popular title song by Brit-pop star Lulu (who also played a student), the film became a sleeper hit.

Filmography

 

Director (Feature Film)

Ghost Dad (1990)
Director
Fast Forward (1985)
Director
Hanky-Panky (1982)
Director
Stir Crazy (1980)
Director
A Piece Of The Action (1977)
Director
Let's Do It Again (1975)
Director
Uptown Saturday Night (1974)
Director
Buck and the Preacher (1972)
Director
A Warm December (1972)
Director

Cast (Feature Film)

Moms Mabley: I Got Somethin' to Tell You (2013)
Sing Your Song (2011)
Himself
Tell Them Who You Are (2004)
Himself
The Last Brickmaker in America (2001)
The Simple Life of Noah Dearborn (1999)
Free of Eden (1999)
Will Cleamons
David and Lisa (1998)
Mandela and de Klerk (1997)
Nelson Mandela
The Jackal (1997)
To Sir With Love II (1996)
Wild Bill: Hollywood Maverick (1995)
Himself
A Century Of Cinema (1994)
World Beat (1993)
Sneakers (1992)
Shoot To Kill (1988)
Little Nikita (1988)
Roy Parmenter
The Spencer Tracy Legacy (1986)
A Piece Of The Action (1977)
The Wilby Conspiracy (1975)
Let's Do It Again (1975)
Clyde Williams
Uptown Saturday Night (1974)
Buck and the Preacher (1972)
Buck
A Warm December (1972)
Dr Younger
Brother John (1971)
John Kane
The Organization (1971)
[Lt.] Virgil Tibbs
King: A Filmed Record ... Montgomery to Memphis (1970)
They Call Me MISTER Tibbs (1970)
Virgil Tibbs
The Lost Man (1969)
Jason Higgs
For Love of Ivy (1968)
Jack Parks
To Sir, With Love (1967)
Mark Thackeray
Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967)
John Prentice
In the Heat of the Night (1967)
Virgil Tibbs
Duel at Diablo (1966)
Toller
A Patch of Blue (1965)
Gordon Ralfe
The Slender Thread (1965)
Alan Newell
The Bedford Incident (1965)
Ben Munceford
The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965)
Simon of Cyrene
The Long Ships (1964)
El Mansuh
Lilies of the Field (1963)
Homer Smith
Pressure Point (1962)
Doctor
A Raisin in the Sun (1961)
Walter Lee Younger
Paris Blues (1961)
Eddie Cook
All the Young Men (1960)
[Sgt. Eddie] Towler
Virgin Island (1960)
Porgy and Bess (1959)
Porgy
The Defiant Ones (1958)
Noah Cullen
The Mark of the Hawk (1958)
Obam
Edge of the City (1957)
Tommy Tyler
Band of Angels (1957)
Rau-Ru
Something of Value (1957)
Kimani
Good-Bye, My Lady (1956)
Gates
Blackboard Jungle (1955)
Gregory W. Miller
Go Man Go (1954)
Inman Jackson
Red Ball Express (1952)
[Corp. Andrew] Robertson
Cry, the Beloved Country (1952)
No Way Out (1950)
Dr. Luther Brooks

Writer (Feature Film)

For Love of Ivy (1968)
Story

Producer (Feature Film)

Free of Eden (1999)
Executive Producer
Buck and the Preacher (1972)
Producer
Brother John (1971)
Executive Producer

Misc. Crew (Feature Film)

Sing Your Song (2011)
Other
Tell Them Who You Are (2004)
Other
Wild Bill: Hollywood Maverick (1995)
Other

Cast (Special)

Mr. Warmth: The Don Rickles Project (2007)
Himself
The Trumpet Awards (2002)
The 74th Annual Academy Awards (2002)
Performer
Muhammad Ali's 60th Birthday Celebration (2002)
Presenter
SAG Awards Show (2001)
Quincy Jones: In the Pocket (2001)
The 32nd NAACP Image Awards (2001)
AFI Life Achievement Award: A Tribute to Barbra Streisand (2001)
Presenter
Richard Widmark: Strength of Characters (2000)
An Evening of Stars: A Celebration of Educational Excellence Benefiting The United Negro College Fund (1999)
The 70th Annual Academy Awards (1998)
Performer
The Kennedy Center Honors (1997)
Performer
The 1997 ESPY Awards (1997)
Performer
The Kennedy Center Honors: A Celebration of the Performing Arts (1995)
James Earl Jones (1995)
An American Reunion: New Beginnings, Renewed Hope (1993)
The Great Ones: The National Sports Awards (1993)
Performer
The American Film Institute Salute to Elizabeth Taylor (1993)
Performer
AFI Salute to Sidney Poitier (1992)
Performer
19th Annual Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame (1992)
Performer
Back to School '92 (1992)
Celebrate the Soul of American Music (1991)
Performer
Sinatra 75: The Best Is Yet to Come (1990)
The 22nd Annual NAACP Image Awards (1990)
Performer
Voyager: Rendezvous With Neptune (1989)
Host
The Kennedy Center Honors: A Celebration of the Performing Arts (1989)
Performer
Bopha! (1987)
Narration
The Night of 100 Stars II (1985)

Misc. Crew (Special)

Mr. Warmth: The Don Rickles Project (2007)
Other

Cast (Short)

Paul Robeson: Tribute to an Artist (1979)
Narrator
A CINDERELLA NAMED ELIZABETH (1965)
Himself

Cast (TV Mini-Series)

Ralph Bunche: An American Odyssey (2001)
Narrator
Children of the Dust (1995)
Separate but Equal (1991)
Thurgood Marshall

Life Events

1940

Dropped out of school at age 13

1941

Served in the US Army as a physiotherapist

1942

Moved to Miami at age 15 to live with his brother Cyril

1945

Joined American Negro Theater and made stage debut in "Days of Our Youth" as Harry Belafonte's understudy

1946

Broadway debut as understudy for all of the male roles in the American Negro Theater's all-black production of "Lysistrata"

1947

Starred in the Broadway production of "Anna Lucasta"

1949

Film debut, appearing in the Army Corps documentary short, "From Whence Cometh My Help"

1950

Made feature film debut in Darryl F. Zanuck's "No Way Out"

1952

TV acting debut in NBC's "The Philco Television Playhouse"

1958

Received first Academy Award nomination for Stanley Kramer's "The Defiant Ones"; first black male to receive nomination

1959

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

1961

Reprised Broadway role for Daniel Petrie's film version of "A Raisin in the Sun"

1963

Became first Black actor to win an Academy Award for Best Actor for "Lilies of the Field"

1965

Portrayed an African American man, who falls in love with blind white female in "A Patch of Blue"

1967

Had starring roles in three hit movies; "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner," "To Sir, With Love" and "In the Heat of the Night"

1968

Wrote original story for the film "For Love of Ivy"; also starred

1968

Made stage directing debut with Broadway production of "Carry Me Back to Morningside Heights"

1969

Formed First Artists production company with Paul Newman, Barbra Streisand and others

1970

Reprised "In the Heat of the Night" role for the sequel, "They Call Me Mister Tibbs"

1971

Once again reprised role of Virgil Tibbs for the third film, "The Organization"

1972

Feature directorial debut, "Buck and the Preacher"

1975

Directed and starred opposite Bill Cosby in "Let's Do It Again"

1977

Last feature acting role for more than a decade in "A Piece of the Action"; also directed

1980

Directed Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor in "Stir Crazy"; first time directing a feature in which he did not also act

1980

Penned his autobiography, <i>This Life</i>

1988

Returned to acting with roles in Roger Spottiswoode's "Shoot to Kill" and Richard Benjamin's "Little Nikita"

1991

Earned Emmy and Golden Globe nominations for his portrayal of Thurgood Marshall the ABC miniseries "Separate But Equal"

1992

Joined an all-star cast for the high-tech caper, "Sneakers"

1996

Reprised role of Mark Thackaray 30 years later in the Peter Bogdanovich directed, "To Sir, With Love II" (CBS)

1997

Played FBI Deputy Director Carter Preston in Michael Caton-Jones' "The Jackal"

1997

Co-starred with Michael Caine for the Showtime miniseries, "Mandela and De Klerk"

1999

Had lead role in the highly-rated CBS TV-movie "The Simple Life of Noah Dearborn"

2000

Helmed second autobiographical work, <i>The Measure of a Man: A Spiritual Autobiography</i>

2001

Appeared in the CBS telefilm, "The Last Brickmaker in America"

2008

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

Photo Collections

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner - Movie Poster
Here is the American one-sheet movie poster for Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967). One-sheets measured 27x41 inches, and were the poster style most commonly used in theaters.
The Slender Thread - Movie Poster
The Slender Thread - Movie Poster
Lilies of the Field - Movie Posters
Lilies of the Field - Movie Posters
Buck and the Preacher - Movie Poster
Buck and the Preacher - Movie Poster
A Raisin in the Sun - Movie Poster
A Raisin in the Sun - Movie Poster
In the Heat of the Night - Movie Posters
In the Heat of the Night - Movie Posters
To Sir, With Love - Movie Poster
Here is the American one-sheet movie poster for To Sir, With Love (1967), starring Sidney Poitier. One-sheets measured 27x41 inches, and were the poster style most commonly used in theaters.
A Patch of Blue - Behind-the-Scenes Photos
Here are a few photos taken during the making of A Patch of Blue (1965).
A Patch of Blue - Sidney Poitier Publicity Photos
Here are a few photos taken of Sidney Poitier to publicize A Patch of Blue (1965).
Something of Value - Scene Stills
Here are a few scene stills from Something of Value (1957), starring Rock Hudson and Sidney Poitier.
The Defiant Ones - Movie Posters
Here are a few original-release movie posters for Stanley Kramer's The Defiant Ones (1958), starring Tony Curtis and Sidney Poitier.
Edge of the City - Movie Poster
Here is the American one-sheet movie poster for Edge of the City (1957). One-sheets measured 27x41 inches, and were the poster style most commonly used in theaters.
Blackboard Jungle - Behind-the-Scenes Photos
Here are several photos taken behind-the-scenes during production of MGM's Blackboard Jungle (1955), directed by Richard Brooks and starring Glenn Ford, Anne Francis, and Sidney Poitier.

Videos

Movie Clip

Warm December, A (1972) - My Warm And Willing Nature American doctor Matt Younger (Sidney Poitier, who also directed), whom we think might be involved in some international intrigue, sees for the second time the unidentified Esther Anderson, and helps her lose her tail (John Beardmore), on location at the British Museum, Bloomsbury, London, in A Warm December, 1972.
Warm December, A (1972) - First Trip To London? After credit sequence including star Sidney Poitier’s for directing, he’s an American doctor in London for a motorcycle-riding vacation with his young daughter, picked up by pal Henry (George Baker) who has his doubts, and they meet a woman (Esther Anderson) who’s being followed, in A Warm December, 1972.
All The Young Men (1950) - October 11, 1950 Wholly factual framing by writer-producer-director Hall Bartlett, for his fictional story and USMC unit, introducing top-billed Sidney Poitier and (co-producer) Alan Ladd, along wtih Charles Quinlivan, boxer Ingemar Johansson, comic Mort Sahl et al, camera by Daniel Fapp on location at Glacier National Park, opening All The Young Men, 1960.
All The Young Men (1960) - He's In Command Lt. Toland (Charles Quinlivan) about to expire, carried back by Sgt. Towler (Sidney Poitier), who he gives command over Sgt. Kincaid (co-producer Alan Ladd), southerner Bracken (Paul Richards) objecting, in the Korean War drama All The Young Men, 1960.
Long Ships, The (1964) - I'm No Dreamer The nervous Viking adventurer Rolfe (Richard Widmark), captured by Moorish Sheikh El Mansuh (Sidney Poitier) improvises an escape in The Long Ships, 1964.
Lilies Of The Field (1963) - God Sets A Mighty Poor Table We still don’t know much about Homer Smith (Sidney Poitier), maybe an itinerant handyman in Arizona, except that he wanted to be paid, rather than be asked to stay to dinner with the band of European nuns, led by Lilia Skala as Mother Maria, early in Lilies Of The Field, 1963.
Warm December, A (1972) - The Open 500 Scramble Star and director Sidney Poitier in action, as American amateur motorcycle racer Dr. Matt Younger in a then-popular “scramble” outside London, monitored by a still-unexplained observer (George Beardmore) then visiting the Thames and Trafalgar Square with his daughter (Yvette Curtis), amid growing mystery, in A Warm December, 1972.
Warm December, A (1972) - Nonqonqo Director and star Sidney Poitier as American doctor Matt Younger visiting London has earned some of the confidence of Catherine (Esther Anderson), mysterious niece of an important African ambassador, and she’s agreed to a date, where they see an African ensemble led by Letta Mbulu singing a Miriam Makeba song, in A Warm December, 1972.
Paris Blues (1961) - Open, Take The A Train "Take The A Train" is the number with Paul Newman and Sidney Poitier pretending to play in the opening to the pretty-much all Duke Ellington jazz movie Paris Blues, 1961, directed by Martin Ritt, also starring Joanne Woodward and Diahann Carroll.
Paris Blues (1961) - Mood Indigo Eddie (Sidney Poitier) conducts Lillian (Joanne Woodward) and Connie (Diahann Carroll) into "Marie's Cave" where band-mate Ram (Paul Newman) sets the hook with Ellington's "Mood Indigo" in Paris Blues, 1961.
Paris Blues (1961) - Where's The Gypsy? American jazz-men Eddie (Sidney Poitier) and Ram (Paul Newman) with three French notables, actor-director Roger Blin as "the Gypsy," a guitar player probably derived from Django Reinhardt, rising star Françoise Brion as his girlfriend and legendary actress Hélène Dieudonne as a pusher, from Paris Blues, 1961.
To Sir With Love (1967) - Victoria And Albert Museum The second of three uses of the title song, sung by Lulu (who plays student “Babs”) off camera, among those joining Thackeray (Sidney Poitier, title character) for a cleverly edited visit to the Victoria And Albert Museum in London, vignettes featuring Judy Geeson and Suzy Kendall bracketing, in To Sir, With Love, 1967.

Trailer

Warm December, A (1973) -- (Theatrical Trailer) Theatrical trailer for director and star Sidney Poitier’s mystery-romance hybrid A Warm December, 1973, co-starring the Jamaican-born model-turned-actress Esther Anderson.
Guess Who's Coming To Dinner - (Original Trailer) Spencer Tracy's last film and last with Katharine Hepburn was this story of a liberal couple tested when their daughter brings home a black fiancee.
In The Heat Of The Night - (Original Trailer) A black police detective from the North forces a bigoted Southern sheriff to accept his help with a murder investigation In The Heat Of The Night (1967).
Buck and the Preacher - (Original Trailer) A con man (Harry Belafonte) helps a group of former slaves survive the perils of the wild West in Buck and the Preacher (1971) directed by and starring Sidney Poitier.
Blackboard Jungle - (Vic Morrow introduction trailer) Vic Morrow, who plays juvenile delinquent Artie West, introduces the trailer for Blackboard Jungle (1955).
Greatest Story Ever Told, The - (Original Trailer) The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965) is an epic re-telling of the life of Christ, directed by George Stevens and starring Max Von Sydow, Dorothy McGuire, Claude Rains and many more
Edge of the City - (Original Trailer) An army deserter and a black dock worker join forces against a corrupt union official in Edge of the City (1957).
Slender Thread, The - (Original Trailer) Sidney Poitier mans the suicide hotline in Sydney Pollack's first movie The Slender Thread (1965).
Bedford Incident, The - (Original Trailer) A U.S. destroyer has a nuclear showdown with a Russian submarine in The Bedford Incident (1965) starring Sidney Poitier.
Paris Blues - (Original Trailer) Paul Newman and Sidney Poitier play two jazz musicians blowing cool on the Left Bank in Martin Ritt's Paris Blues (1961).
Defiant Ones, The - (Original Trailer) Two convicts, a white racist and an angry black, escape while chained to each other. Starring Sidney Poitier and Tony Curtis.
Blackboard Jungle - (Original Trailer) An idealistic teacher (Glenn Ford) confronts the realities of juvenile delinquency in Blackboard Jungle (1955), directed by Richard Brooks.

Family

Reginald James Poitier
Father
Tomato farmer. From Cat Island in the Bahamas.
Evelyn Poitier
Mother
Tomato farmer. From Cat Island in the Bahamas.
Cyril Poitier
Brother
Born c. 1911; died on November 13, 1991 of cancer; oldest brother; helped raise Sidney; moved to Miami from Cat Island in 1929; had bit roles in Poitier's movies "Uptown Saturday Night" (1974), "Let's Do it Again" (1975) and "A Piece of the Action" (1977).
Beverly Poitier
Daughter
Born in 1951; mother, Juanita Hardy.
Pamela Poitier
Daughter
Born in 1952; mother, Juanita Hardy.
Sherri Poitier
Daughter
Born in 1953; mother, Juanita Hardy.
Gina Poitier
Daughter
Actor. Mother, Juanita Hardy.
Anika Poitier
Daughter
Actor. Born c. 1972; mother, Joanna Shimkus.
Sydney Tamiia Poitier
Daughter
Actor. Mother, Joanna Shimkus; acted with father in Showtime movie "Free of Eden" (1999).

Companions

Juanita Hardy
Wife
Dancer. Married on April 29, 1950; divorced in 1965.
Diahann Carroll
Companion
Actor, singer.
Joanna Shimkus
Wife
Actor. Married on January 23, 1976; born in 1943; met in Paris while co-starring in "The Lost Man" (1969).

Bibliography

"The Measure of a Man: A Spiritual Autobiography"
Sidney Poitier, HarperCollins (2000)
"The Films of Sidney Poitier"
Sidney Poitier with Carol Bergman, Chelsea House (1988)
"This Life"
Sidney Poitier, Alfred A. Knopf (1980)
"The Cinema of Sidney Poitier"
Lester J. Keyser and Andre H. Ruszkowski, A.S. Barnes & Co. Inc. (1980)
"The Films of Sidney Poitier"
Alvin Marill, Citadel Press (1978)
"The Long Journey"
Catharine Ewers, Signet (1969)

Notes

Poiter was rated the Number 7 top money-making star in the 1967 Quigley poll of exhibitors, and placed Number 1 in 1968.

"You could characterize my career as a fairly successful and substantive one if you were to look at all 42 films I've made. Most of the scripts I did were written by whites. To require a white person to write only for whites is stupid. To require me to write only for blacks is also stupid." --Sidney Poitier at American Film Institute's Center for Advanced Film and Television Studies seminar (quoted in American Film, September/October 1991)

"Poitier's ascension to stardom in the mid-1950s was no accident. ... in this integrationist age Poitier was the model integrationist hero. In all his films he was educated and intelligent. ... His characters were tame, never did they act impulsively, nor were they threats to the system. ... And finally they were non-funky, almost sexless and sterile.Poitier was also acceptable for black audiences. He was the paragon of black middle-class values and virtues. ... he did not carry any ghetto cultural baggage with him. No dialect. No shuffling. No African cultural past. ... he was the complete antithesis of all the black buffoons who had appeared before in American movies.Finally, Poitier became a star because of his talent. He may have played the old tom dressed up with modern intelligence and reason, but he dignified the figure. Always on display was the actor's sensitivity and strength." --Donald Bogle ("Toms, Coons, Mulattoes, Mammies and Bucks" 1973)

He was given the William J German Human Relations Award from the American Jewish Committee in 1966.

Poitier was decorated Knight Commander for the Order of the British Empire (1974)

He received the Thurgood Marshall Lifetime Award for his longstanding committment to civil rights and excellence in the portrayal of minorities in the film and entertainment industry in 1993.

In 1997, Poitier was named the Bahamas' ambassador to Japan; the actor holds dual citizenship

"No one expected that the son of a tomato farmer and a semi-literate lady would ever make a stir of any consequence. I flirted with reform school. I was an incorrigible kid to some extent. I didn't know where I was, who I was, or what I was. And the society in which I lived didn't care too much.There was a teacher in the Carribean. His name was Mr Fawkes and he taught like Thackeray [Poitier's character in "To Sir With Love"]. He was so remarkable. He used to tell us stories about those places beyond our limited horizon.He stimulated our imagination and nurtured it. I learned how to daydream and that, after all, is what I apply when I work nowadays." --Poitier to Daily News, April 7, 1996