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Sidney Poitier Speaker Profile

Sidney Poitier was born dangerously premature at only three pounds on February 20, 1924, in Miami, Florida. Sidney Poitier's father, a tomato farmer, had already saved a shoe box to bury him in when he miraculously recovered. The family moved to the Bahamas, where Sidney grew up as the youngest of eight siblings on Cay Island and Nassau.

After attending school for only a year and a half, Sidney Poitier dropped out to help his ailing father tend to the tomato farm during the depression. At age 15, he moved back to Miami to live with his brother Cyril, working as a drugstore messenger. It was then that the young Sidney Poitier experienced the first sting of racial prejudice in the United States, which was markedly different from his island home.

After a warning visit from the Ku Klux Klan at his brother's home, Poitier decided to flee Miami for New York City. Not having funds for transportation, he rail hopped and finally arrived with only a few dollars in his pocket. He found work washing dishes and slept on a roof across from the Capitol Theatre; however, the onset of a harsh winter prompted Sidney to lie about his age and join the U.S. Army, with hopes of being stationed in a warm climate. Instead, he received a post at a mental hospital in Long Island and eventually feigned mental illness himself to escape duty in 1945. Back in the city, he came across an advertisement in The Amsterdam News that would change his life forever: The American Negro Theatre was looking for actors.

After being laughed and booed off the stage at his first audition, Sidney Poitier returned to the theatre and was granted free acting lessons from director Frederick O'Neal in exchange for completing backstage chores. He eventually won a part, alternating with fellow struggling actor Harry Belafonte, in Days of Our Youth. One role led to another and soon Sidney Poitier was commanding the limited black roles available on the New York stage.

In 1950, after performing successfully on the stage for several years, Sidney Poitier made his Hollywood debut in No Way Out, playing a prison ward doctor struggling to do his job amidst escalating racial tension in the cells. A string of strong leading roles followed, and Poitier became the trailblazer for black actors in Hollywood.

In 1958, Sidney Poitier was the first black actor nominated for an Academy Award for his performance in The Defiant Ones; in 1963, he won the Best Actor Oscar for Lilies of the Field; and in 1967, he initiated the first on-screen kiss between a white person and a black person in Guess Who's Coming to Dinner. Other successful films include: Blackboard Jungle; A Raisin in the Sun; The Bedford Incident; To Sir, With Love; A Patch of Blue; and In the Heat of the Night. Civil rights advocates praised Poitier for portraying characters whose reserved dignity demanded respect; however, not everyone was a fan. Many activists found his characters too rational, too composed, and lacking the passion they felt was needed to fuel the civil rights movement.

In the 1970s, Sidney Poitier turned away from acting to take the director's chair and made several films in the popular Blaxploitation vein, including Buck and the Preacher (1972) and Uptown Saturday Night (1974). In 1977, he directed the hit comedy Stir Crazy, pairing charismatic comedians Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder. His film appearances since the 1970s have been noticeably scarce.

Sidney Poitier played an FBI agent in 1988's Shoot to Kill, and in Little Nikita that same year. He also appeared in Sneakers (1992) and in 1997's The Jackal, with Richard Gere and Bruce Willis. In 1999, Poitier appeared alongside his youngest daughter, fledgling actress Sydney Poitier, in Showtime's Free of Eden.

Poitier and his second wife, Joanna, live in Beverly Hills, where he continues to write screenplays and study philosophy. In 1980, the notoriously private man published his autobiography, This Life. He recently received an honorary award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.


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Authors such as a Sidney Poitier have dazzled readers with their creativity, passion, and superb plot. The booking agents at Celebrity Talent Promotions can assist with Sidney Poitier speaking engagements or appearances. We have years of experience in booking Authors for keynote speeches and autograph signings. Hiring an Author like Sidney Poitier is not a hard process. Our agents can provide availability, fees and all costs associated in bringing out a successful Author to your next corporate event. We can find Sidney Poitier’s agent to make this booking happen. A Sidney Poitier appearance will add energy to your upcoming event and reward employees, customers and clients. Most likely, fans and corporations can find Sidney Poitier's official website, charity involvement, Twitter account, representation, publicist and management info at www.Sidney Poitier.com. If your company is interested in finding out booking fees and availability for hiring a speaker, celebrity or Sidney Poitier for an appearance, autograph signing, endorsement or speaking engagement, call us at 1.888.752.3532 or fill out the booking form below.

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