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Sir Sidney Poitier is a multi-award winning actor, movie director, writer, and international diplomat. Back in 1963, Poitier became the very first African-American to win an Academy Award for Best Actor as well as the Golden Globe Award for the same category; this was for his role in the 1963 film adaptation of William Edmund Barrett’s novel Lilies of the Field.
In 2002, the Hollywood icon received an Academy Honorary Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. In addition to his illustrious showbiz career, Sydney Poitier is equally a distinguished diplomat having served as the Bahamian ambassador to Japan. Poitier is a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire and also a recipient of United States’ Presidental Medal of Freedom.
Sidney Poitier Biography
Sir Sidney L. Poitier was born on February 20, 1927, in Miami, Florida to Bahamian parents Evelyn (née Outten) and Reginald James Poitier. Sidney was born 2 months before his due date while his parents were in Miami for business. As a result, his parents stayed back in Miami until their little son was in a much better condition. The young Poitier was raised in the Bahamas alongside 7 older brothers, however, his birth in the US granted him automatic US citizenship.
As a teenager, Poitier relocated to Miami where he joined his brother’s family. At 16, he moved to New York where he held several odd jobs to cater for himself. As he never had any formal education, Poitier was taught how to read a newspaper by one of his coworkers. During the second world war, he falsified his age to get into the US army. After serving as a hospital attendant for a short period, Poitier was released from the army and he went back to doing odd jobs. He eventually got a shot at acting following a successful audition at the American Negro Theater (ANT).
Sidney Poitier had it rough in the earlier months, however, he eventually landed his first lead role in a Broadway production. He marked his feature film debut in the 1950 film No Way Out. His performance in the film got him effectively noticed and landed him many more roles. In 1958, Poitier earned his first Oscar nomination for his lead role in the crime film The Defiant Ones (1958) becoming the first Bahamian-born actor to be nominated for Oscar. Sidney Poitier made even more history in 1963 by claiming the Academy Award for Best Actor becoming the first black man and the first Bahamian native to win the prestigious award.
Way back in 1974, Sidney was conferred a knight of the Order of the British Empire by the British monarch Queen Elizabeth II. After several decades of a brilliant Hollywood career, Sidney served his home country as the ambassador to Japan from 1997 to 2007. On August 12, 2009, he was bestowed with the US Presidential Medal of Freedom by then US president .
His Wife, Daughter, and Other Children
Sidney Poitier is currently married to former actress Joanna Shimkus, his wife of over 4 decades. Shimkus was born in Canada and she is also of Irish descent. The couple tied the knot on January 23, 1976; they have 2 children together.
Prior to his current union, he was married to a woman known as Juanita Hardy. The marriage lasted for 15 years from April 1950 to 1965. In addition to his first marriage, Poitier also had a nine-year affair with actress Diahann Carroll. It is believed that their relationship began while Poitier was still married to his first wife, however, they never got married.
The actor has a total of 6 children, all daughters. With his first wife Juanita Hardy, Poitier had 4 daughters; Beverly, Pamela, Sherri, and Gina. He had 2 more (Anika and Sydney) from his present marriage. Mr. Sidney also has numerous grandchildren as well as great-grandchildren.
Sydney Tamiia Poitier is the last daughter of the veteran Hollywood actor and just like her father, she has also delved into the world of acting. She started out way back in the 1990s with smaller roles both on television and in movies. Apart from her guest roles on Grey’s Anatomy and Hawaii Five-0, Tamiia had regular roles on Chicago P.D. (2014) as well as the Canadian crime drama Carter (2018).
Is Sidney Poitier Dead or Alive?
At over 9 decades of age, Sir Sidney Poitier is still very much alive and well. The Hollywood vet has been a victim of unfounded death hoaxes on a few occasion, however, they were all confirmed to be false. An all-round trailblazer, Sidney Poitier is the oldest living male recipient of an academy award.
Sidney Poitier is undoubtedly one of the most successful actors in the history of Hollywood. He has enjoyed an illustrious career of several decades as an actor and also as a director. His net worth is currently pegged at an estimate of $25 million.