Poitier, Sir Sidney

Poitier, Sir Sidney, 1927–, Bahamian-American actor, b. Miami, raised in the Bahamas, returned to the United States at 15. The first African-American actor to achieve leading man status in Hollywood films, Poitier combines attractiveness and poise with an innate projection of dignity and self-assurance. Many of his plays and films have directly addressed issues of race, including his Broadway triumph, Lorraine Hansberry 's A Raisin in the Sun (1959, film 1961), and such films as the pioneering No Way Out (1950), his movie debut the internationally acclaimed Cry, the Beloved Country (1951), after Alan Paton 's novel The Defiant Ones (1957), the film that established Poitier's reputation Lilies of the Field (1963 Academy Award) Guess Who's Coming to Dinner? (1967), which treated the subject of interracial marriage and In the Heat of the Night (1967). He turned to directing in 1971 among his films are Buck and the Preacher (1972), A Patch of Blue (1973), and Stir Crazy (1980). In 1991 he portrayed Thurgood Marshall in the Emmy-winning television film Separate but Equal. Knighted in 1968, he was appointed the Bahamas' ambassador to Japan in 1997.

See his autobiographical works, This Life (1980), The Measure of a Man (2000), and Life beyond Measure: Letters to My Great-granddaughter (2008) biography by A. Goudsouzian (2004).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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