Sidney Poitier - Updated May 2024

Updated On February 12, 2024
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Sidney Poitier

Sidney Poitier is a late American actor, film director, and diplomat. Sidney Poitier was the first black actor and the first Bahamian to win the Academy Award for Best Actor.

Early Life

Sidney Poitier came to the world on the 20th of February 1927, in Beverly Hills, California, the United States of America. Moreover, he passed away at the age of 94 and holds dual nationality of American- Bahamian.

He has a zodiac sign of Pisces and believes in the Roman Catholic religion.  In addition, he belongs to the African-American ethnicity. He is the son of Reginald James Poitier (father) and Evelyn Poitier (mother). Sidney’s parents were both farmers.

Moreover, he grew up in poverty and was showing signs of becoming delinquent. Later, his father sent him to live with his brother Cyril Poitier in New York. He used to work as a dishwasher to make run his life. Growing up in poverty, he could not receive any formal education.  Moreover, he was taught to read by a Jewish waiter who coached him after working hours.


On the 6th of January 2022, he died at his home in Los Angeles, California, at the age of 94 years old.  Moreover, his death was revealed and confirmed by Fred Mitchell, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Bahamas. He died due to cardiopulmonary failure, with Alzheimer’s disease and prostate cancer, according to his death certificate obtained by TMZ.

Professional Career

Initially, Sidney Poitier joined the American Negro Theater but struggled due to his inability to sing and also due to his strong Bahamian accent. For several months, he trained hard to overcome his weaknesses.
In the Broadway production, ‘Lysistrata’ he played the lead role, and his performance was highly appreciated. Moreover, he went on to become a popular stage actor and soon started receiving offers from several movies. He portrayed a doctor role named Dr. Luther Brooks in the 1950 movie called ‘No Way Out.’
Sidney Poitier

Caption: Sidney Poitier in the movie Heat of the Night (Source: The Hollywood Reporter)

After appearing in several supporting roles in movies, he got his breakthrough role in the 1955 social commentary Blackboard Jungle, a film based on a novel of the same name by Evan Hunter.
In the 1958 movie ‘The Defiant Ones’ he played the role of Noah Cullen, an escaped prisoner in the movie. He appeared along with Ruby Dee, Claudia McNeil, Diana Sands, and Roy Glenn in the 1961 drama film ‘A Raisin in the Sun.’ The movie was based on the play of the same name by Lorraine Hansberry.

Other appearances and movies direction

In 1963, he played Homer Smith in the film Lilies of the Field, which was produced and directed by Ralph Nelson. With his performances in the movie, he was critically appreciated and he won several awards and accolades.
He appeared in the 1965 super hit film ‘A Patch of Blue.’ The film was about the relationship between a black man and a blind white girl, and the challenges they face when they fall in love in a racially segregated America.
Moreover, he appeared in the 1967 drama mystery film ‘In the Heat of the Night’ and played the police officer Virgil Tibbs. Further, the movie was followed by two sequels, They call me MISTER Tibbs! in 1970, and The Organization, in 1971, where he re-appeared in both films.
In addition, he made his directorial debut in 1972 in the western film Buck and the Preacher in which he also starred as a trail guide. Moreover, he went on direct several other successful movies, including the comedy ‘Stir Crazy’ in 1980. Moreover, he appeared in television and film starring in Shoot to Kill (1988) and Sneakers (1992).


In his career, he has won several awards and honors. He earned the Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role for the film Lilies of the Field, in 1963.

Moreover, he was awarded an Academy Honorary Award in 2002 “for his extraordinary performances and unique presence on the screen and for representing the industry with dignity, style, and intelligence.” He shared his years of wisdom for future generations with 2008’s Life Beyond Measure: Letters to My Great-Granddaughter.

Sidney Poitier

Caption: Sidney Poitier receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom from former American President Barack Obama (Source: Academy of Achievement)

In addition, this actor was appointed a Knight Commander of the British Empire in 1974, which entitles him to use the title “sir,” though he chooses not to do so. He earned the Presidential Medal of Freedom from former American President Barack Obama in 2009.

In 2011, he was feted by the Film Society of Lincoln Center, earning the organization’s Chaplin Lifetime Achievement Award. From April 1997 to 2007, he was appointed the ambassador of the Bahamas to Japan. Moreover, he also served as the ambassador of the Bahamas to UNESCO from 2002-2007.

Net Worth 2023

This American actor’s net worth was estimated at around $20 million at the time of his death.  He earned this amount of money as an actor, film director, and diplomat.

Relationship Status

Talking about his personal life, Sidney Poitier married twice in his life. Firstly, he married Juanita Hardy on the 29th of April 1950. With the marriage, the couple has four daughters named Beverly, Pamela, Sherri, and Gina. however, the couple got divorced in 1965.

Sidney Poitier

Caption: Sidney Poitier with his wife, Joanna Shimkus (Source: People)

After the divorce, he married actress Joanna Shimkus on January 23, 1976, and they remained married until his death. With the marriage, the couple has two daughters named Anika and Sydney Tamila.

Body Measurements

Talking about his body stats, he stands 6 feet 2 inches tall and weighs around 97 kg. Moreover, he has dark brown hair with blue eyes color and wears a shoe size of 10 US.

Social Media

This legendary and award-winning actor is no longer in his world, so he is not active on social media platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.