For my birthday month I just had to pick an actor that I totally adore and admire. That person is Sir Sidney Poitier. I cannot believe that he will turn 86 this February 20th! Most of my very favorite films of his are from the 1960's so I feel utterly transported to those times. I personally feel his best work was done in the 1960's. It was a time of racial and civil strife in our country and I feel as though his roles really made us look at things a little differently, especially in Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967).
Although Poitier became a symbol of triumph and success for the African-American community especially in the 1960's, he is actually Caribbean. His parents were Bahamian and he grew up on Cat Island. I point this out because for those that are Caribbean there are differences in culture but it doesn't mean that Poitier wasn't happy to be seen in that light by the African-American community here in the United States or by any group. I personally view him as a national hero. He took on roles that really shook you up, he took them and he made them his own. And not only did he do that but he did so gracefully and with dignity. How many people can you say do accomplish all that in their line of work?
Poitier was born on February 20th, 1927 and immigrated to the United States at fifteen. After working as a dishwasher both in and out of the Army, he signed up to become a part of the American Negro Theater. Although he had a rough start, he rededicated himself to the craft of acting and worked on diminishing his Bahamian accent. He auditioned for a film called No Way Out (1950) as an acting exercise. He was shocked indeed when they gave him one of the leads of the film, Dr. Luther Brooks. His performance set him apart from other actors and he landed roles that many African-American actor couldn't not land. In setting himself apart and having his agent demand more pay for his role in "No Way Out" ($75 to $750 a week), he really put himself in a position of power in the Hollywood community. (can you hearing me cheer on as I write this? hehe)
He continued to land fantastic and though provoking roles in films such as; Blackboard Jungle (1955), The Defiant Ones (1958), A Raisin in the Sun (1961), Lilies of the Field (1963)-which he won a an Academy Award, A Patch of Blue (1965), To Sir, with Love (1967), and In the Heat of the Night (1967). He continued to work throughout the 1970's until 1999. His last three projects were documentaries.On a personal note, Poitier was first married to Juanita Hardy from 1950 to1965. He has been married to Joanna Shimkus, since January 23, 1976. He has four daughters with his first wife and two with his second: Beverly, Pamela, Sherri, Gina, Anika, Sydney Tamiia. The photo above is with his second wife in their current home.
Poitier also wrote his own autobiography called The Measure of a Man: A Spiritual Autobiography in which he speaks about spiritualism and the values that have guided him throughout his lifetime. Do you see why I love this man?? I mean I LOVE this man! If I could meet him and Nelson Mandela...oh boy...just thinking about it makes my brain all warm and fuzzy (showing my vintage nerdiness again! hehe)
In 2001, Poitier received an Honorary Academy Award for his contribution to the film industry. In 2009, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama. That moment must have been so surreal for him. Ugh! I love that man hehe
Now you all know about the fabulous and amazing Sir Sidney Poitier-actor, writer, director, diplomat, husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather. I mean if you are wondering if this man cannot be more amazing, he wrote this book in 2009 called, Life Beyond Measure: Letters to My Great-Granddaughter. Good grief-swoon! A man after my own heart! And no his looks do not hurt. Okay, enough gushing about Mr. Poitier but I hope you look into his work if you haven't already. You will be memorized and captivated-trust me!
PS-My BIRTHDAY GIVEAWAY WINNER Is Emiliegh Mimi from Flashback Summer! Congrats hun! Email me your name and mailing address and I will fwd it to Denise! xox