Happy 94th Birthday to Sidney Poitier KBE.
Born February 20, 1927, He is an actor, film director, and ambassador. In 1964, Poitier won the Academy Award for Best Actor (on his second nomination) becoming the first black male and Afro-Bahamian actor to win that award.
In 1958, Poitier starred with Tony Curtis as chained-together escaped convicts in the The Defiant Ones, which received nine Academy Award nominations. Both actors received a nomination for Best Actor, with Poitier’s being the first for a black actor, as well as a nomination for a BAFTA, which Poitier won.
In 1964, he won the Academy Award and the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor for Lilies of the Field (1963) in which he played a handyman helping a group of German-speaking nuns build a chapel. Poitier also received acclaim for A Raisin in the Sun (1961) and A Patch of Blue (1965).
He continued to break ground in three successful 1967 films which dealt with issues of race and race relations: To Sir, with Love; Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, and In the Heat of the Night. He was the top box-office star of the year.
He received Golden Globe and BAFTA nominations for the latter film, but not for the Oscars, likely due to vote splitting between his roles. After twice reprising his Virgil Tibbs role from In the Heat of the Night and acting in a variety of other films, including the thriller The Wilby Conspiracy (1975), with Michael Caine, Poitier turned to acting/directing with the action-comedies Uptown Saturday Night (1974), Let’s Do It Again (1975), and A Piece of the Action (1978), all co-starring Bill Cosby.
During a decade away from acting, he directed the hit Stir Crazy (1980) starring Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder, among other films. He returned to acting in the late 1980s and early 1990s in a few thrillers and television roles.
Poitier was made an honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II in 1974. In 2009 Poitier was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States’ highest civilian honor.
In 2016, he was awarded the BAFTA Fellowship for outstanding lifetime achievement in film. In 1999, Poitier was ranked 22nd among the male actors on the “100 Years…100 Stars” list by the American Film Institute. He is one of only two living actors on the list, the other being Sophia Loren.
In 2002, Poitier was chosen to receive an Academy Honorary Award, in recognition of his “remarkable accomplishments as an artist and as a human being.”