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Poitier, Sidney (1927–)

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POITIER, SIDNEY (1927–). Actor, director. Born in Miami, Sidney Poitier spent his early years with his family in the Bahamas. He returned to Miami at age 15, hopped freight trains to New York City, and became a dishwasher. When Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, Poitier enlisted in the U.S. Army and served four years. Upon returning to New York, he tried out for the American Negro Theater but was turned away because of his diction. Poitier worked hard to make improvements and was later accepted by the theater group and his career destiny was set. His first Hollywood film was No Way Out , 1950, and dozens of starring roles followed. These included Cry, the Beloved Country , 1952; Blackboard Jungle , 1956; Something of Value , 1957; and Porgy and Bess , 1959. On stage, Poitier starred in the Broadway version of Lorraine Hansberry’s award-winning A Raisin in the Sun , and repeated his character in the big screen version. He became a major box office attraction during the 1960s. He was the first African American actor nominated for an Oscar for his role in The Defiant Ones , 1958, and was the first to win a best actor Academy Award for his performance in Lilies of the Field , 1965. Later in his career, Poitier turned to directing and helmed the films Buck and the Preacher , 1972; Stir Crazy , 1980; Hanky Panky , 1982; and Ghost Dad , 1990. In 2001, he received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Filmography: No Way Out , 1950; Cry, the Beloved Country , 1951; Red Ball Express , 1952; Blackboard Jungle , 1955; Goodbye, My Lady , 1956; Something of Value , 1957; The Mark of the Hawk , 1957; Band of Angels , 1957; The Defiant Ones , 1958; All the Young Men , 1960; A Raisin in the Sun , 1961; Paris Blues , 1961; Pressure Point , 1962; Lilies of the Field , 1963; The Long Ships , 1964; The Slender Thread , 1965; A Patch of Blue , 1965; The Greatest Story Ever Told , 1965; Bedford Incident , 1965; Duel at Diablo , 1966; To Sir, with Love , 1967; In the Heat of the Night , 1967; Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner , 1967; For Love of Ivy , 1968; The Lost Man , 1969; They Call Me Mr. Tibbs! , 1970; Brother John , 1970; The Organization , 1971; Buck and the Preacher , 1972; Uptown Saturday Night , 1974; Let’s Do It Again , 1975; A Piece of the Action , 1977; Shoot to Kill , 1988; Little Nikita , 1988; Separate But Equal , 1991; Sneakers , 1992; A Good Day to Die , 1995; Mandela and de Klerk , 1997; The Jackal , 1997; Free of Eden , 1998; The Simple Life of Noah Dearborn , 1999.

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