Bettmann Archive/Getty Images
  • Sidney Poitier's career was marked by numerous honors and distinctions. He redefined the portrayal of Black Americans in Hollywood films. <br><br> The actor, director, civil rights activist and ambassador was born in Miani in 1927 He died on Jan. 7, 2022 at age 94.
    Bettmann Archive via Getty Images
  • Raised in the Bahamas, Poitier moved to New York at age 16 to pursue a career in acting. In the late 1940s, he joined the American Negro Theater in Harlem, seeking a stage career until he could land acting roles in Hollywood. <br><br> Poitier increasingly pursued roles that were not race-based or defined by color. In his movie "No Way Out," he plays a Black doctor trying to save the life of a bigot, belligerent white patient.
    Bettmann Archive/Getty Images
  • Poitier married wife Juanita Hardy in 1950. The couple had four daughters and divorced in 1965. In this photo, they are pictured together in Berlin, where they were honored with signing the Golden Book of the city in 1960.
    Ullstein Bild via Getty Images
  • Poitier was the first Black man to receive an Oscar nomination. He and Tony Curtis were both nominated for best actor for their roles in the movie "The Defiant Ones," where they play escaped convicts who must cooperate to survive.
    Film Publicity Archive/United Archives via Getty Images
  • Poitier and actor Jean Seberg attended the Cannes Film Festival for the showing of "A Raisin in the Sun" in Cannes, France, 1961. In the film, Poitier plays the head of a Black working-class family moving into a white middle-class neighborhood in Chicago in the 1950s.
    Dalmas/SIPA Press via AP
  • Deeply committed to social justice and the civil rights movement, Poitier participated in the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, in Washington, D.C. <BR><BR> Other actors attending the march included Harry Belafonte and Charlton Heston, seen in this photo with Poitier at the Lincoln monument, during the march.
    Photoquest/Getty Images
  • In 1964, Poitier became the first Black male to win an Academy Award for best actor, receiving the Oscar for his performance in "Lilies of the Field."
    Archive Photos/Getty Images
  • In a groundbreaking look at interracial marriage, Poitier played a Black man who is engaged to a white woman (actor Katharine Houghton) in "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner." Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy played the parents in the film.
    United Archives/Film Publicity Archive via Getty Images
  • Fans photographed Poitier and actor Rod Steiger while they take a break on set during the filming of "In the Heat of the Night" in 1967. In the film, Poitier plays a police detective investigating a murder case in a small, racist Southern town.
    Ullstein Bild via Getty Images
  • After cornering the market for the best lead roles available to Black men in the 1960s, Poitier started to work as a movie director. In 1974, he both acted in and directed "Uptown Saturday Night."
    Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images
  • Poitier and Joanna Shimkus married in 1976 and have two daughters. In this 1970 image, they attended an Andrew Young campaign fundraising event.
    Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images
  • In 1984, Poitier directed the movie "Stir Crazy," starring Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder. For many years, this was the highest grossing film directed by a Black person.
    Globe Photos/Mediapunch via AP
  • Poitier and his family attended the 1986 Academy Awards ceremony held at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion on March 24, 1986, in Los Angeles.
    Globe Photos/MediaPunch via AP
  • In the 1990s, Poitier took occasional acting roles, but mainly concentrated on writing his three autobiographies. <br><br> In 1995, he received the honorary degree of Doctor of Fine Arts from New York University.
    New York Post Archives via Getty Images
  • Poitier was appointed ambassador of the Bahamas to Japan in 1997. In this image, Poitier arrives at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo on April 16, 1997, to present his credentials to Emperor Akihito.
    Koji Sasahara/AP
  • In 2001, Poitier was chosen to receive an honorary Academy Award, in recognition of his "remarkable accomplishments as an artist and as a human being." <br><br> In this image, Poitier poses with his honorary Oscar trophy during the 74th annual Academy Awards on March 24, 2002, in Los Angeles.
    Mike Nelson/AFP via Getty Images
  • President Barack Obama presented the Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the United States, to Poitier during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House, Aug. 12, 2009, in Washington, D.C.
    Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
  • Poitier’s choice of roles that were not race-based or defined by color, and his depiction of Black characters standing tall in the face prejudice and social injustice made him a pioneer in re-shaping the way Black people were portrayed by Hollywood.
    Frank Trapper/Corbis via Getty Images