Sidney Poitier

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Sidney Poitier

Sir Sidney Poitier , KBE (* 20th February 1927 in Miami , Florida ) is a bahamaisch - American actor and director . For his role in Lilies on the Field , he was the first African American actor to be awarded an Oscar for a leading role in 1964. In addition, his best-known films include Escape in Chains , Guess Who's Coming to Eat and In the Heat of the Night .

life and work

Sidney Poitier (left) with Harry Belafonte and Charlton Heston during the 1963 Civil Rights March

Poitier's family is originally from the Bahamas , where he also grew up. He was born on February 20, 1927 (some documents also mention February 20, 1924 as his date of birth) in Miami, Florida, when his parents were visiting. As a result, he was a citizen of the United States according to the place of birth ( ius soli ) . A poor farmer's son, he received only a basic education and was sent to Miami to live with his brother at the age of 15. At 18 he went to New York , where he first came into contact with the theater. He played at the America Negro Theater in Harlem . In order to get on there, he had to free himself from his broad Bahamas tongue. From there he made the leap to Broadway . In 1950, Hollywood producer Darryl F. Zanuck brought him to film. Poitier was the first African American to become a movie star and star in Hollywood films. After his success as an actor, especially in the 1960s, he also worked as a director from the early 1970s.

The subtext of many films in which it played leading roles is about the manifestations of racism in the United States . His sophistication in appearance and demeanor made him a role model and box office magnet. He was admired by many African Americans, including Oprah Winfrey , who in early 2007 made his autobiography The Measure of a Man the favorite reading of her TV book club. The book was published in 2001 in a German translation by Gabriele Haefs under the title Mein Vermächtnis. A kind of autobiography appeared.

1964 Poitier received for Lilies of the Field (Lilies of the Field) the Oscar as Best Actor . He was the first black actor to receive this award and the second black person ever to be honored by the film academy. In 1940, African American actress Hattie McDaniel won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Gone With the Wind . In the 1950s, Poitier supported a foundation that enabled Africans to study in the USA through scholarships. One of the scholars was the Kenyan Barack Obama senior , whose son became President of the USA. In 2002 he received the honorary Oscar for his life's work. In 2012, Poitier presented Morgan Freeman with the Golden Globe for his life's work.

Sidney Poitier is married for the second time and has a total of six daughters from both connections, including actress Sydney Tamiia Poitier .


In 2009, President Obama gave Poitier the Presidential Medal of Freedom

In 1974 he was awarded the Knight Commander of the British Empire (KBE) , which is associated with the title "Sir", for his acting services . Although he was born in the USA and is therefore a US citizen, Poitier is also a citizen of the Bahamas due to his origin and thus also has civil rights in the British Commonwealth , which entitles him to bear the title "Sir".

In 2009, President Barack Obama awarded Poitier the Presidential Medal of Freedom .

Diplomatic service

From April 1997 to 2007 Poitier was the Bahamas Ambassador to Japan , but the Bahamas government limited his activities to representative tasks. He himself did not reside in Japan, but was represented. Poitier also represented the Bahamas from 2002 to 2007 as an ambassador to UNESCO .


As a performer

As a director


As a performer

  • 1946: Lysistrata ( Belasco Theater , New York City)
  • 1947: Anna Lucasta (National Theater, New York City)
  • 1959: A Raisin in the Sun (Ethel Barrymore Theater, New York City)
  • 1960: A Raisin in the Sun (Belasco Theater, New York City)

As a director

  • 1968: Carry Me Back to Morningside Heights (John Golden Theater, New York City)

Spoken word recordings

  • 1955: Sidney Poitier with Doris Belack - Poetry of the Negro (Glory)
  • 1964: Jackie Barnett presents Sidney Poitier - Poitier Meets Plato (Warner Bros. Records)
  • 1970: Jackie Barnett presents Sidney Poitier - Journeys Inside The Mind - The Dialogues of Plato (Warner Bros. Records)

Awards and honors


  • Sidney Poitier: My legacy. Kind of an autobiography. (Original title: The Measure of a Man ). German by Gabriele Haefs . Europa-Verlag, Hamburg and Vienna 2001, 279 pages, ISBN 3-203-81025-5
  • Aram Goudsouzian: Sidney Poitier. Man, Actor, Icon. University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill ca.2004, 480 (XII) pp., ISBN 0-8078-2843-2

Film documentaries

  • Sidney Poitier, an outsider in Hollywood (Sidney Poitier, un outsider à Hollywood) . Documentary by Catherine Arnaud , arte, France 2008, 70 minutes

Web links

Commons : Sidney Poitier  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. a b c Sueddeutsche Zeitung of February 20, 2007.
  2. The Guardian : Barack Obama's father on colonial list of Kenyan students in US , April 18, 2012, loaded March 8, 2017
  3. Berliner Morgenpost : The man who paved the way for Obama. , from February 20, 2017, loaded on March 8, 2017
  4. ^ The Irish Times : Obama names Robinson for top civilian honor . July 31, 2009. (English)
  5. Dinner with Sir Sidney Poitier: Remarks by Minister Fred Mitchell ,, August 23, 2012, accessed February 16, 2017
  6. ^ Sydney Poitier to be honored with BAFTA Fellowship