The world lost a wonderful man and a great talent last week, Mr Sidney Poitier, at 94 years of age. In honour of his incredible life and outstanding career, we decided to have a look back at his remarkable life.
Sidney Poitier was born on the 20th of February and was the youngest of seven children. He grew up in the Bahamas with his family and stayed at Cat Island until he was ten years old. His family decided to move to Nassau where Poitier was exposed to the modern world, experiencing electricity, plumbing, and motion picture for the first time. At the age of 15, Sidney moved to Miami and then to New York at 6, after experiencing huge amounts of racism.
Having joined various theatre productions and gaining success on stage, Poitier moved onto the silver screen with “No Way Out” in 1950. Little did he know that soon later he would become the first Black man to be nominated for an Academy Award for Lead Actor, his outstanding work in “The Defiant Ones” 1958. Using his stardom and fame he helped bring on to the Broadway stage, Lorraine Hansberry’s play “A Raisin in the Sun” in 1959.
1963 was a historic year for Poitier, Hollywood, and the world, as Sidney Poitier won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his fantastic performance in “Lilies of the Field”, making him the first black man to win an Academy Award. When he accepted his award in his acceptance speech, Sidney spoke about all those who came before him and hoped that his win would be the beginning of change. Sadly it took decades for another African-American actor to win an Academy Award. It wasn’t until 2002 when Denzel Washington won for his movie “Training Day” that another black man would win an Oscar. On the same night, Poitier also received an honorary Oscar for his career and humanitarian efforts.
The Oscar win did not stay as Sidney’s pinnacle for his career, his success continued and his desire to grow in his career in Hollywood continued as he continued breaking records. In 1980 Sidney directed “Stir Crazy”, which made Poitier the first black director to make a film that grossed more than $100 million at the box office, something unique and a first for its time.
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