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 HansberryHansberry, Lorraine,
1930–65, American playwright, b. Chicago. She grew up on Chicago's South Side. In 1959 she became the first black woman to have a play produced on Broadway when A Raisin in the Sun opened to wide critical acclaim.
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'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 PatonPaton, Alan
, 1903–88, South African novelist. A devoted leader in the struggle to end the oppression of the South African blacks, he served (1935–47) as principal of the Diepkloof Reformatory (near Johannesburg) for delinquent boys, where he instituted many reforms.
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'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 MarshallMarshall, Thurgood,
1908–93, U.S. lawyer and associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court (1967–91), b. Baltimore. He received his law degree from Howard Univ. in 1933. In 1936 he joined the legal staff of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
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 in the Emmy-winning television film Separate but Equal. Knighted in 1968, he was appointed the Bahamas' ambassador to Japan in 1997.

Bibliography

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).