Friday, February 19, 2010

Happy 83rd Birthday Sidney Poitier!

Sidney Poitier was born on February 20, 1927 in Miami, Florida to Evelyn Outten and Reginald James Poitier. His family had traveled from Cat Island, Bahamas to Miami to sell tomatoes and other produce from their farm when Sidney was born prematurely on their trip to Florida.

Sidney Poitier began his acting career by joining the American Negro Theater, but was initially rejected by audiences. His tone deafness made him contrary to what was expected of African American actors at the time unable to sing or dance.

However, Sidney Poitier was determined to refine his acting skills. He spent the next several months to achieving theatrical success. On his second attempt at theater, he was noticed which led to him being cast in the Broadway production of Lysistrate for which he received excellent reviews.

In 1949, Sidney Poitier faced a difficult decision: leading roles on the Broadway stage of accept an offer to appear in the film No Way Out.

Sidney Poitier choosed the film No Way Out (1950) which led to more roles in the film industry.

In 1955, he was cast in the Blackboard Jungle (1955).

In 1958 he played opposite Tony Curtis in The Defiant Ones. He received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor for his performance becoming the first African American male actor to be nominated in a competitive category.

In the late 1950s, Sidney Poitier returned to the Broadway stage performing in A Raisin in the Sun. He would receive a Tony award nomination for his performance.

In 1961, Sidney Poitier reprised his Broadway role in the movie version of A Raisin in the Sun.

In 1963, Sidney Poitier became the first African American to win an Academy Award for Best Actor for his role in Lilies of the Field. He also won the Golden Globe for Best Actor for his performance.

In 1965, Sidney Poitier starred in The Bedford Incident (1965). This would mark the first time he would play a role in which his character's race was not an issue.

Sidney Poitier also appeared in such films as Edge of the City (1957), Pressure Point (1962), A Patch of Blue (1965), Duel at Diablo (1966), To Sir, with Love (1967), In the Heat of the Night (1967), Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967), They Call Me MISTER Tibbs! (1970), Buck and the Preacher (1972) and Sneakers (1992).

Sidney Poitier has also had a successful career as a director. He has directed such films as Buck and the Preacher (1972) and Ghost Dad (1990). His most successful film as a director is the 1980 Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder comedy Stir Crazy.

Sidney Poitier has received many awards including Cecil B. Demille Award (1982), AFI Life Achievement Award (1992), SAG Life Achievement Award (1995), Kennedy Center Honor (1999) and a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for motion pictures.

On August 12, 2009, Sidney Poitier was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States of America's highest civilian honor, by President Barack Obama.

Sidney Poitier is currently the Bahamian ambassador to Japan, a post he has held since 1997.

Sidney Poitier was to Hollywood what Jackie Robinson was to major league baseball: the man who broke the color barrier. An actor, director, and producer, he forever altered the racial perceptions long held by both motion picture audiences and executives.

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