American actor and director, born on February 20, 1927, in Miami, Florida. He was actually a native of the Bahamas and was born in Miami while his parents were visiting the US. He grew up poor and had little education; he was sent to live with his brother in Miami when he was 15 because his parents feared he would become a criminal if he stayed in the Bahamas.

Coming from a society where black people were in the majority, Poitier was shocked to learn of the racial divide in America. When he was 18, he moved to New York City, where he slept in a bus terminal for a while because he had no money. After working a number of menial jobs, he auditioned on a whim at the American Negro Theatre, but was rejected. He spent the next six months working to improve his acting abilities and get rid of his accent; his hard work was rewarded when he was accepted at his second audition.

Poitier's first acting job was a bit part in a Broadway production of "Lysistrata"--the excellent reviews he received soon led to film, and he appeared as a doctor treating a white bigot in "No Way Out" in 1950. More favorable reviews led to more roles--Poitier turned many of them down because he considered them demeaning, but his exacting standards paid off with a Best Actor nomination for "The Defiant Ones" in 1958 and a Best Actor win--the first ever for a black actor in a leading role--for "Lilies of the Field" in 1963.

Poitier's incredible talent and charisma allowed him to make pioneering inroads in Hollywood--only a few years before, the best any black actor could hope for would be bit parts as servants, but Poitier was accepted as a lead actor in A-list films. His interest in the civil rights movement led him into movies which addressed racism in America, including "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner", "To Sir, with Love", and "In the Heat of the Night". He scaled back his acting in the 1970s and '80s to take up directing, including "Buck and the Preacher", "Uptown Saturday Night", "A Piece of the Action", "Stir Crazy", and "Ghost Dad".

Some of Poitier's other movies include "Cry, the Beloved Country", "The Blackboard Jungle", "Porgy and Bess", "A Raisin in the Sun", "The Greatest Story Ever Told", "The Bedford Incident", "They Call Me MISTER Tibbs!", "Little Nikita", and "Sneakers". He also played Thurgood Marshall in a TV movie called "Separate But Equal" and Nelson Mandela in another TV flick, "Mandela and de Klerk". And he played himself in an episode of "South Park"!

Poitier was honored with an honorary Academy Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2002, presiding over the Oscar presentations to Denzel Washington and Halle Berry, as only the second and third black actors to win Oscars for leading roles.

Research from the Internet Movie Database (www.imdb.com)

Log in or registerto write something here or to contact authors.