Sidney Poitier: 10 Things to Know About the Legendary Bahamian-American Actor
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Sidney Poitier, a Bahamian-American actor died on Friday at the age of 94. He was a trailblazer in film and is remembered for paving the way for black actors.
Prime Minister Philip Davis said Poitier’s “light will continue to shine brightly for generations to come.”
Davis said Poitier’s “colossal achievements,” will be remembered including “his strength of character; his willingness to stand up and be counted; and the way he plotted and navigated his life’s journey.”
What to Know About Sir Sidney Poitier
- He made history in 1964, becoming the first black man to win a best actor Oscar award for Lilies of the Field. He went on to perform in other films, winning acclaim for Mr Tibbs, Porgy and Bess, A Patch of Blue and A Raisin in the Sun.
- He was a diplomat for the Bahamas, serving in Japan between 1997 and 2007 and the UNESCO between 2002 and 2007.
- He was born in Miami to Bahamian tomato farmers Reginald and Evelyn Poitier in 1927 . Poitier grew up in Cat Island in the Bahamas. His family later moved to Nassau and he was sent to live with relatives in Miami at age 14.
- Poitier admitted to lying about his age in his book, The Measure of a Man: A Spiritual Autobiography. He said he pleaded insanity to be discharged from the army after 9 months
- He held dual Bahamian-US citizenship.
- President Barak Obama gave him the Presidential Medal Of Freedom. In 2009, Obama awarded Poitier the highest civilian honor for his achievements in art and humanitarianism.
- The Bahamas’ bridge that connects Nassau to Paradise Island was renamed in his honor in 2012.
- He imitated radio announcers and read newspapers to improve his reading skills after a heavy Bahamian accent and limited reading skills cost him his acting job at Harlem’s American Negro Theater.
- In recent years, Oprah Winfrey, chose his 2000 memoir The Measure of a Man for her book club, introducing him to a new and younger generation.
- Poitier married actress Joanna Shimkus, his second wife, in the mid-1970s. He had six daughters with his two wives and wrote three books – This Life (1980), The Measure of a Man: A Spiritual Autobiography (2000) and Life Beyond Measure: Letters to My Great-Granddaughter (2008).