|Born||20 February 1927|
|Net Worth||$25 million|
Sidney Poitier was born prematurely in Miami, Florida. His parents had grabbed the Florida Straits at a sailboat to market the berries they raised on Cat Island in the Bahamas. Though he hardly survived the initial months of life, the baby Sidney returned together with his parents into their farm, on a very small island with no electricity, running water, paved streets, cars or other modern conveniences. He spent his first ten years living close to fishing, nature and working alongside his sisters and brothers on the family farm.
At the time, the Bahamas, an archipelago of over 700 islands and tens of thousands of cays, was a colony of Great Britain. When Poitier was nearly eleven, his parents moved to Nassau, the capital. In Nassau had his first taste of industrial civilization and watched his first films. The Poitiers were weak, and young Sidney left school at age 12 to help support his loved ones.
When Sidney’s best friend was sent to reform school, his father feared that Sidney also would fall into delinquency when he stayed in Nassau. The elder Poitier encouraged his son to test his fortune in the USA. An older brother had already settled into Miami, and at age 15, Sidney joined him. His birth from Miami entitled him to U.S. citizenship, but for a young black guy in the Florida of the 1940s, the rights of citizenship existed only on paper. A small infraction of the standard hint of white supremacy could result in violence. Having grown up in a nearly all-black society at the Bahamas, Poitier had never discovered the distinction that white Southerners expected. Although he quickly found work in Florida couldn’t as readily adapt to the indignities of segregation. Following a summer holiday washing dishes in a mountain hotel in Georgia, Poitier left the South and set off for New York City.
Robbed along the way he came in Harlem, just 16 years old, with just a few dollars in his pocket. Knowing no person, he staged in bus stations and on rooftops until he had made enough money to pay for a rented room. As out of place in the army, as he was in Miami feigned madness to acquire a medical discharge. Returning to New York that he appeared trapped in a dead-end existence. In an impulse, he strove to audition for Harlem’s American Negro Theater, the foremost African American theatrical company of its day, but the theatre’s director instils his Caribbean accent and bad reading skills. The young Poitier took the rejection for a challenge and resolved to become an actor if only to show the man incorrect. For another half an hour, he worked doggedly to enhance his reading. Convinced the written sentence held the key to a better life, he pored over newspapers between shifts as a dishwasher and fighting to find out and comprehend. In his rented room, he listened to the radio for long periods of time, repeating every word to alter his accent.
Returning to the American Negro Theater, he offered to serve as an unpaid janitor in trade for taking classes at the theatre’s school. His teachers had little faith in him but if the celebrity of the student production, the youthful Harry Belafonte, was not able to look, Poitier was permitted to substitute for him personally. His operation had been seen by a Broadway manager who provided him with a small part in an all-black production of the ancient Greek comedy Lysistrata. The character that had failed to impress his instructors in the classroom setting proved incandescent onstage. Even though he flubbed his lines on opening night, both critics and audiences were charmed. Lysistrata closed quickly, but another manufacturer offered Point