Photo of Sidney Poitier Sidney Poitier

Hollywood trailblazer Sidney Poitier was born Feb. 20, 1927, in Miami to Bahamian parents. After Army service, he joined the American Negro Theater, making a 1946 Broadway debut in "Lysistrata." In 1950, Poitier made his screen debut in No Way Out. Through such 1950s films as Blackboard Jungle and Edge of the City, Poitier built up a strong presence.

He scored a breakthrough with 1958's The Defiant Ones, becoming the first black actor to be nominated for a leading-role Academy Award. Five years later, Poitier won the Best Actor Oscar for Lilies of the Field and was a dominant star of the '60s with memorable roles in To Sir, with Love, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner and In the Heat of the Night.

He added directing to his resume in the '70s with Uptown Saturday Night and Stir Crazy, among others. Since the '80s, his screen appearances (Sneakers, The Jackal) have been infrequent.

Sidney Poitier in To Sir, with Love

To Sir, with Love

1966 NR

Sidney Poitier stars as Mark Thackeray, an engineer by training who reluctantly takes a teaching job in a working-class London high school. His unruly students (played by an impressive group of unknowns) assume they'll easily gain the upper hand. Poitier, of course, has other ideas. Eventually he wins the students over, changing their lives -- and his -- in the process.

  • Sidney Poitier in In the Heat of the Night In the Heat of the Night
  • Sidney Poitier in Sneakers Sneakers
  • Sidney Poitier in A Raisin in the Sun A Raisin in the Sun
  • Sidney Poitier in Lilies of the Field Lilies of the Field
  • Sidney Poitier in Guess Who's Coming to Dinner Guess Who's Coming to Dinner
  • Sidney Poitier in The Jackal The Jackal
  • Sidney Poitier in Sing Your Song Sing Your Song
  • Sidney Poitier in Stir Crazy Stir Crazy
  • Sidney Poitier in Separate But Equal Separate But Equal
  • Sidney Poitier in The Spencer Tracy Legacy The Spencer Tracy Legacy
  • Sidney Poitier in Mr. Warmth: The Don Rickles Project Mr. Warmth: The Don Rickles Project
  • Sidney Poitier in The Greatest Story Ever Told The Greatest Story Ever Told
  • Sidney Poitier in The Long Ships The Long Ships
  • Sidney Poitier in The Bedford Incident The Bedford Incident
  • Sidney Poitier in The Organization The Organization
  • Sidney Poitier in Band of Angels Band of Angels
  • Sidney Poitier in Buck and the Preacher Buck and the Preacher
  • Sidney Poitier in The Wilby Conspiracy The Wilby Conspiracy
  • Sidney Poitier in Shoot to Kill Shoot to Kill
  • Sidney Poitier in The Simple Life of Noah Dearborn The Simple Life of Noah Dearborn
  • Sidney Poitier in Moms Mabley: I Got Somethin' to Tell You Moms Mabley: I Got Somethin' to Tell You
  • Sidney Poitier in Blackboard Jungle Blackboard Jungle
  • Sidney Poitier in King: A Filmed Record King: A Filmed Record
  • Sidney Poitier in A Warm December A Warm December
  • Sidney Poitier in Mandela and de Klerk Mandela and de Klerk
  • Sidney Poitier in The Last Brickmaker in America The Last Brickmaker in America
  • Sidney Poitier in Paul Robeson: Portraits of the Artist Paul Robeson: Portraits of the Artist
  • Sidney Poitier in Something of Value Something of Value
  • Sidney Poitier in For Love of Ivy For Love of Ivy
  • Sidney Poitier in Ghost Dad Ghost Dad
  • Sidney Poitier in Oprah Winfrey Show: 20th Anniversary Oprah Winfrey Show: 20th Anniversary