Sidney Poitier's career was marked by numerous honors and distinctions. He redefined the portrayal of Black Americans in Hollywood films.
The actor, director, civil rights activist and ambassador was born in Miani in 1927 He died on Jan. 7, 2022 at age 94.
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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.
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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
Other actors attending the march included Harry Belafonte and Charlton Heston, seen in this photo with Poitier at the Lincoln monument, during the march.
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."
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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.
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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.
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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."
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Poitier and Joanna Shimkus married in 1976 and have two daughters. In this 1970 image, they attended an Andrew Young campaign fundraising event.
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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.
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Poitier and his family attended the 1986 Academy Awards ceremony held at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion on March 24, 1986, in Los Angeles.
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In the 1990s, Poitier took occasional acting roles, but mainly concentrated on writing his three autobiographies.
In 1995, he received the honorary degree of Doctor of Fine Arts from New York University.
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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.
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."
In this image, Poitier poses with his honorary Oscar trophy during the 74th annual Academy Awards on March 24, 2002, in Los Angeles.
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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.
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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.
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