Sidney Poitier is arguably one of the world’s best actors. With a career than spans over 60 years, and numerous awards under his belt, he has solidified his place in history. But do you know some of these interesting fact about one of our most celebrated actors?
- He was homeless until he got his first acting role.
After a brief stay in Florida, Sidney moved to New York to pursue acting and slept in a bus station bathroom until he got his first acting role in 1950’s No Way Out.
- He and Harry Belafonte are best friends.
The two entertainers – born nine days apart and both of West Indian heritage – met in the 1940s in their 20s before either of them had been discovered in the industry.
- Someone faked being his son for money food and shelter.
During the early 1980s a man named David Hampton conned his way into the homes of several wealthy and prominent New Yorkers (including a dean at Columbia University) by falsely claiming to be Poitier’s son. Playwright John Guare, fascinated by the story, based his play Six Degrees of Separation on Hampton’s story. The play was adapted into the movie Six Degrees of Separation (1993) in 1993, with Will Smith as Hampton.
- He is a British knight.
He was appointed a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1974. However, he does not refer to himself as Sir.
- He was interested in singing.
Before his break, Sidney considered singing. His dreams of being a cast member in an on/off Broadway production ended when he realized he was tone deaf.
- He was the first black man to win an Oscar.
In 1963 he became the first black man to win an Academy Award for Best Actor in a Lead Role for his role as Homer Smith in Lilies of the Field (1963). The first black man to win an Academy Award was James Baskett (although an Honorary Award) for his role in Song of the South (1946).
- He speaks fluent Russian.
His role as ambassador to several countries has more than prepared him for international travel. He also speaks conversational Japanese.
- The comedy he directed – Stir Crazy – stayed at the top of the most grossing movies by a black director.
The 1980 comedy Stir Crazy, starring Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder, was the highest grossing film by a black filmmaker until 2000’s Scary Movie was released.