Best Local Boy Made Good (2006)

Sidney Poitier

Born in Miami during a mainland visit by his Bahamian parents, this great American actor came to the Magic City as a fifteen-year-old in 1942 and remained in the United States after that. At first he had a really rough time, experiencing racism and difficulty in getting a job, which inspired his civil rights activism as an adult. Poitier joined the U.S. Army at age eighteen and while on leave auditioned impulsively for a Broadway production of Lysistrata. He got the part, and within a decade had copped the Oscar for his performance in 1963's Lilies of the Field, the first black to win in a leading role. Poitier maintained activity onstage, onscreen, and in the burgeoning civil rights movement. Roles in Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967), as the suitor of a white woman (and by extension her uptight family), and To Sir, with Love (1967), as a teacher and inspiration to a bunch of teen hoodlums, were landmarks of their time. Today those films are still eminently watchable, in large part owing to Poitier's elegant elocution and reserved manner. And don't even get us started on They Call Me Mr. Tibbs.


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