Sidney Poitier

About Sidney Poitier

Sidney L. Poitier KBE (born February 20, 1927) is a Bahamian-American retired actor, film director, activist, and ambassador. In 1964, he won the Academy Award for Best Actor, becoming the first black male and Bahamian actor to win the award. Upon the death of Kirk Douglas in 2020, Poitier became one of the last surviving major stars from the Golden Age of Hollywood cinema, and the oldest living and earliest surviving Best Actor Oscar-winner. From 1997 to 2007, Poitier served as Bahamian Ambassador to Japan.

Sidney Poitier started off his acting career by joining the North American Negro Theatre, landing his breakthrough film role as a high school student in the film ‘Blackboard Jungle’, in 1955. Shortly after, in 1958, Poitier starred with Tony Curtis in ‘The Defiant Ones’, which received nine Academy Award nominations. 

In 1964, he won the Academy Award and the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor for ‘Lilies of the Field’. Poitier also received acclaim for ‘Porgy and Bess’, ‘A Raisin in the Sun’ and ‘A Patch of Blue’. He continued to break ground in three successful 1967 films which dealt with issues of race and race relations: ‘To Sir, with Love’, ‘Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner’, and ‘In the Heat of the Night’. Poitier also directed various comedy films including ‘Stir Crazy’, among other films.

Among his extensive list of accolades and achievements, Sidney Poitier was made an honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE) by Queen Elizabeth II in 1974, received the Kennedy Center Honor, was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, was awarded the BAFTA Fellowship for outstanding lifetime achievement in film and was ranked 22nd among the male actors on the “100 Years…100 Stars” list by the American Film Institute. He is one of only two living actors on the list, the other being Sophia Loren. Learn More…

Sidney Poitier