Sidney Poitier
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Trailblazing Actor Sidney Poitier Had a Net Worth of $20 Million

Danielle Letenyei - Author

Jan. 7 2022, Published 1:20 p.m. ET

Legendary actor Sidney Poitier died on January 6, 2022, at the age of 94. The Oscar-winning actor had a net worth of $20 million, according to

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Poitier was the first black man to win an Academy Award for Best Actor. He won the award in 1964 for his lead role in the movie Lilies of the Field.

Sidney Poitier

Oscar-winning Actor

Net worth: $20 Million

Actor Sidney Poitier died on January 6, 2022, in the Bahamas at the age of 94. Poitier blazed a trail for Black actors in Hollywood and was the first Black man to win an Academy for Best Actor for his 1964 role in Lilies in the Field. In 2009, Poitier received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from former President Barack Obama.

Birthplace: Miami, Florida

Birthdate: February 20, 1927

Wife: Joanna Shimkus

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Poitier’s accomplishments in the film industry helped change the way Black people were portrayed in movies and paved the way for other Black actors.

“I made films when the only other Black on the lot was the shoeshine boy. I was kind of the lone guy in town,” Poitier said in a 1988 interview with Newsweek.

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sidney poitier
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Poitier’s parents were tomato farmers.

Poitier grew in the Bahamas, the youngest of seven children. His parents were tomato farmers who often traveled to Miami to sell their produce. On one of their trips, Poitier was born two months premature. His birth in Miami gave him automatic U.S. citizenship.

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Poitier lived in the Bahamas until age 15 when his parents sent him to live with his brother in Miami. A year later, he moved to Harlem in New York City.

Poitier never planned to be an actor.

Poitier worked a string of jobs to make ends meet. In 1943, before he was even 17, he lied about his age to enlist in the Army during World War II. But after witnessing the appalling conditions at a Veteran’s Administration hospital he was stationed at, Poitier faked his own mental illness and requested a discharge, which was eventually granted.

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Acting was never on Poitier’s radar. He was working as a dishwasher when he spotted an ad looking for actors at the American Negro Theater and decided to try it. His audition didn’t go well, and the director walked him to the door, the Associated Press reports.

poitier belafonte
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The rejection sparked a fire in Poitier, and he was determined to become an actor.

“I got so pissed, I said, ‘I’m going to become an actor — whatever that is. I don’t want to be an actor, but I’ve got to become one to go back there and show him that I could be more than a dishwasher.’ That became my goal.” Poitier told the Associated Press in 1999.

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Poitier started as Harry Belafonte’s understudy.

Poitier spent months learning to read and tune down his thick Caribbean accent. He eventually got a part as an understudy to fellow Caribbean Harry Belafonte. When Belafonte had a job conflict, Poitier went on stage for him in the preview performance, the AP reports.

Poitier received many awards throughout his career.

After that, Poitier’s career took off and he appeared in numerous films. Besides his 1963 Academy Award, he also won two Golden Globe awards, a Grammy award, and a British Academy Award.

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obama poitier
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Poitier received the Golden Globe’s Cecil B. Demille Award in 1981 and the Screen Actors Guild’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2000. Former President Barack Obama presented Poitier with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009.

In his 2000 memoir, Poitier wrote, “All those who see unworthiness when they look at me and are given thereby to denying me value — to you I say, ‘I’m not talking about being as good as you. I hereby declare myself better than you.’”


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