R.I.P. Sidney Poitier, the trailblazing actor of In the Heat of the Night and A Raisin in the Sun

The American icon was 94.

Porgy and Bess, A Raisin in the Sun, Cry, the Beloved Country, Blackboard Jungle, In the Heat of the Night, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner — Sidney Poitier's filmography reads like a list of the greatest films of all time. But they were arguably on that list because of Poitier.

As one of the biggest stars of the 1950s and 1960s, the Miami-born actor was in some ways too big for the small screen. At the time, television was seen as less prestigious than film, and Poitier was the definition of prestige. That being said, the Academy Award–winning legend made an impact on television. 

Homicide inspector Virgil Tibbs, the central character of In the Heat of the Night, would later be played by Howard Rollins in the television adaptation that aired for seven seasons. (The movie's script was also written by Stirling Silliphant, creator of Route 66.)

Blackboard Jungle, one of Poitier's earliest breakthrough roles in 1955, a tale of rebellious teens, was also the screen debut of young Jameel Farah — who would later change his name to Jamie Farr and star in M*A*S*H.

Everett CollectionPoitier, far left, with Farr, far right

In a recent interview with We Are the Mighty, Farr said working with Poitier was his most fulfilling acting experience outside of M*A*S*H. "It would be M*A*S*H and Blackboard Jungle for film. The film had Glenn Ford and Sidney Poitier with music featuring Bill Haley and His Comets which was filmed at MGM," Farr said of his favorite roles.

As an acclaimed stage actor, Poitier did make some television appearances in the dawn of his career, when the medium was fond of staging dramas. He appeared on the anthology series Omnibus ("The Bad Men") and CBS Television Workshop ("Careless Love"). In 1996, he headlined a sequel to one of his biggest hits, a TV movie titled To Sir, with Love II.

As a director, Poitier showed his hand at comedy, directing the likes of Gene Wilder, Richard Pryor, and Gilda Radner in Stir Crazy and Hanky Panky.

Poitier's death was confirmed on January 7, according to The Hollywood Reporter. He was 94.

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forthekids 18 months ago
He also appeared in two TV movies"The Last Bricklayer In America: and a TV movie..where he played an ex school teacher turned business exec..who tries to help a troubled teenage girl(The girl is played by Mr.Poitier's daughter).
DeloresPerry 25 months ago
In honor of Sir Sidney Poitier: I am so proud and honored to have been born on your Birthday. It was an honor and a privilege for us all to have enjoyed your stellar talents and success as an actor. May you rest in Heavenly Peace.
jacko3 29 months ago
An outstanding Actor and Distinguished Humanitarian ... Mr. Sidney Poitier was a true legend in his own time - May the GOOD LORD Bless his Life, Soul & Legacy - Amen - Alleluia!
Michael 29 months ago
TCM is airing Lillies of the Field on Sunday Feb 6th, at 8pm Eastern.

Hopefully there will be other Sidney Poitier films, but they only show the schedule for the first week sofar.
LoveMETV22 29 months ago
Left to right: Sidney Poitier, Rafael Campos, Paul Mazursky, Denny Dennis, Dan Terranova,
Jameel Farah (Jamie Farr), in the group picture.
There was another gentleman (Vic Morrow) to Poitier's left and 2 gentlemen
( Yoshi Tomita and Jerry King) to Jamie Farr's right not shown from BLACKBOARD JUNGLE 1955.
Pacificsun 29 months ago
The Man and his Achievements

Hal 29 months ago
I can't believe that the person that wrote this piece about Sidney Poitier, didn't even mention his performance in "Lillies of the Field" for which he won the Best Actor Oscar!
cperrynaples 29 months ago
One Poitier movie that hasn't been brought up is Pressure Point, which turns 60 this year! In that film, he's a psychogist who confronts a Nazi supporter played by Bobby Darin [yes, THAT Bobby Darin]! It makes a strong statement against racism with an unexpected performance by Darin!
RussellAnderson 29 months ago
Growing up in the 1960s, Sidney Poitier was a beacon of goodwill and intelligence, during a time of cultural upheaval where Blacks in America were demanding equal rights and full citizenship, after they were finally allowed to fight for their country in a segregated armed forces in World War II and had the first Black Fighter Pilots in the Tuskeegee Airmen, who distinguished themselves in battle. Poitier just basically played himself, he portrayed blacks not as caricatures of themselves, but as themselves! Which was a huge breath of fresh air when blacks were often portrayed as sterotyped characters, similar to the treatment of other minorities in Hollywood. Poitie opened doors, and helped our society advance toward a greater spirituality. The characters he played were learned, introspective, and intelligent, and caring for others for the most part, and he brought authenticity to every role, and his talent was stellar, and he shall be sorely missed. I love all his movies, and have some of them on DVD and blue-ray. Another icon lost. RIP Sir Sidney Potier!
Paladin_1918_1981 29 months ago
May you Rest In Peace. I named my youngest son after you. Your influence on the Silver Screen was so much more than breaking a color barrier. It will be difficult to move on. Sir Sidney Poitier, you have been a constant in my life. And I thank you for being you. XOXO
Evil25Illusion 29 months ago
Rest in peace. You were an important piece of Hollywood's golden era. Thank you!
RichLorn Evil25Illusion 29 months ago
Totally agree, he was a trail blazer. And I'd like to nominate Denzel Washington as Mr Poitier's heir apparent.
DethBiz 29 months ago
RIP Mr. Poitier. One of the greats! Always liked him in a lesser known movie with Tom Berenger from the late 80s called Shoot to Kill.
jvf 29 months ago
What a huge talent! He will be missed.
Bill 29 months ago
He did an exquisite job in Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner in 1967, a major film in that era of strained race relations. It was also Spencer Tracy’s last film. He was very ill, and in that scene here he gives a long speech to the couple, the camera shows Kath. Hepburn crying. That wasn’t acting; it was real emotion, since she knew that he was dying. They had been lovers for decades.
ladydi 29 months ago
Thank you, Lyndalc,
Your parents raised you well to respect everyone as we all want the same things in life. Love, peace, joy and happiness😊👍
LyndaLC 29 months ago
As a young white girl living in 1960's Detroit Sidney Poitier was one of my first loves. My parents saw the racial turmoil happening in Detroit and they wanted to assure I grew up to respect and appreciate all cultures/races. This made Mr. Poitier an important person in our home. He made the world a better place.
L 29 months ago
Definitely "To Sir with Love". Two problems but it has nothing to do with him:

I fancy some of the male students but 1) I was only five years old and 2) I'm on the other side of the ocean.
Peter_Falk_Fan 29 months ago
The first Sidney Poitier movie that I remember watching was "Blackboard Jungle". That one and "The Defiant Ones" would be my two favorites of his.

R.I.P. Sidney Poitier. Thank you for bringing us such good entertainment in front of and behind the camera.
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