Sidney Poitier

Sidney Poitier has an, honorable, decent image which Bill Cosby tried to do and failed at. Poitier was born on February 20th 1927 in florida. His parents came from the Bahamas Poitier was moved to miami to live with his elder brother. Poitier moved to new York City where he washed dishes. Poitier was interested in the stage, he went to the American negro theatre.  Poitier couldn’t read properly so he spent the next six months trying to better his accent listening to the radio,and a waiter where he worked helped to improve his reading. Poitier got a lucky break by Harry Belefonte, he put Poitier  in a part in Broadway.  A Hollywood talent scout found him in, 1950 Poitier did a film called no way out, it was a racial abuse film which caused controversy. Theatre owners banned the film in the south. Bahamas banned the film however, in the end it was shown. In 1951 Poitier went to south Africa to film cry the beloved country. He saw first hand the effects of apartheid which was the same in America and in the Bahamas.

In 1955 he was 27yrs old and did a film called blackboard jungle which was a rock and roll film, Poitier played a teenager in a rough neighbourhood. In 1958 Poitier was in a film with Tony Curtis called the defiant ones they played prisoners who escaped from prison and were chained to each other. The black and white dynamics were examined. Race made a political statement, Curtis’s role was turned down by white actors. Poitier played a southern blackman, they learned to respect each other in the end.

The next film Poitier did was porky and bess a role that Harry Belefonte turned down he thought that black people were portrayed in a stereotypical light. Poitier choose raisen in the sun which was written by a black female writer. He took this to Broadway which became the first play on Broadway by a black writer. Then was made as a film which became a huge hit.

In 1963 Poitier received a best actor Oscar for lilies of the field he was the first African American to receive this award. Poitier went to London to film to Sir with love in 1967. Also in that year he was in guess who’s coming to dinner which included Oscar winners Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracey. This was a film which was about interacial marriage which at that time wwas banned in 17 states. Also that year he was in a film called in the heat of the night he received an Oscar nomination. In this film Poitier in provised in a scene  where white man slapped him, then Poitier inprovised by slapping him back.

Poitier was critised in an article, in the new York times, which said that he was not political enough regarding African American issues of the times. We must remember at this time malcolm X and Martin Luther King were assassinated.

In 1972 he went behind the camera in his directorial debut buck and the preacher. In 1974 Poitier directed a trilogy called uptown Saturday night. In 1980 he directed stir crazy Which starred Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder he became the first African American film to cost 100 million dollars. In 1992 Poitier was in a film with Robert Red Ford called Sneakers which was about computer hackers it made 100 million at the box office.

In 1997 Poitier made a tv film with Michael Caine called Mandela and De klerk. Also in that year he was In a film with Richard Gerd and Bruce Willis called The Jackal.

In spite of not initially being able to read he accomplished thought provoking films which still stand the test of time. He wrote three books which one was his autobiography. Poitier was awarded the presidential medal of freedom which was given to him by Barack Obama.  Also he was awarded an honorary Oscar.

There is a lot of negativity when researching black history however, there are a lot of success stories who through the harshness of life survive to realise their dreams such as Sidney Poitier.

 

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