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Sidney Poitier : man, actor, icon
2004
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The life and career of Sidney Poitier are analyzed in this biography of the actor, highlighting his work as the only black leading man during the civil rights era and the honors he has received for his work for racial equality in Hollywood. - (Baker & Taylor)

Traces the life and career of Sidney Poitier, highlighting his work as the only black leading man during the civil rights era and the honors he has received for his work for racial equality in Hollywood. - (Baker & Taylor)

In the first full biography of actor Sidney Poitier, Aram Goudsouzian analyzes the life and career of a Hollywood legend, from his childhood in the Bahamas to his 2002 Oscar for lifetime achievement. Poitier is a gifted actor, a great American success story, an intriguing personality, and a political symbol; his life and career illuminate America's racial history.<br> <br>In such films as <i>Lilies of the Field</i>, <i>In the Heat of the Night</i>, and <i>Guess Who's Coming to Dinner</i>, Poitier's middle-class, mannered, virtuous screen persona contradicted prevailing film stereotypes of blacks as half-wits, comic servants, or oversexed threats. His screen image and public support of nonviolent integration assuaged the fears of a broad political center, and by 1968, Poitier was voted America's favorite movie star.<br><br>Through careful readings of every Poitier film, Goudsouzian shows that Poitier's characters often made sacrifices for the good of whites and rarely displayed sexuality. As the only black leading man during the civil rights era, Poitier chose roles and public positions that negotiated the struggle for dignity. By 1970, times had changed and Poitier was the target of a backlash from film critics and black radicals, as the new heroes of "blaxploitation" movies reversed the Poitier model.<br> <br>In the 1970s, Poitier shifted his considerable talents toward directing, starring in, and producing popular movies that employed many African Americans, both on and off screen. After a long hiatus, he returned to starring roles in the late 1980s. More recently, the film industry has reappraised his career, and Poitier has received numerous honors recognizing his multi-faceted work for black equality in Hollywood. As this biography affirms, Poitier remains one of American popular culture's foremost symbols of the possibilities for and limits of racial equality.<br><br> - (The University of North Carolina Press)

This biography examines the remarkable life and career of Sidney Poitier--a gifted actor, a great American success story, an intriguing personality, and a political symbol. The book covers Poitier's childhood in the Bahamas, his stage experiences in New York, his Hollywood successes in the 1960s (including the Best Actor Oscar for Lilies of the Field), the setbacks of the 1970s, and the new directions in the 1980s and 1990s. Poitier received the 2002 Academy Award for Lifetime Achievement. - (The University of North Carolina Press)

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/*Starred Review*/ Lots of celebrity bios are cranked out every year, but few are written with the serious scholarly intent of Goudsouzian's study of actor, director, and role model Poitier. Borrowing a page from many great literary biographers of the past half century (Deirdre Bair, Peter Ackroyd, Michael Holroyd), Goudsouzian chronicles Poitier's time and places him within it. Poitier's career alone makes fascinating reading. The son of a poor farmer eking out a living on Cat Island in the Bahamas, Poitier survived to thrive first in theater and then the movies, rising from early roles with the Harlem-based American Negro Theatre and in films like Blackboard Jungle to become one of the best known African American actors. But this book is no hagiography. Goudsouzian recounts the controversies Poitier became enmeshed in, from Clare Luce Booth's attempts to remove Blackboard Jungle from the Venice Film Festival because it reflected poorly on America to boycotts of Poitier's films in the South to backlash against him in the late 1960s and early 1970s as radical black leaders accused him of playing to the status quo by portraying characters who--dignified, stoical, but sexless--were least threatening to the dominant white culture. Goudsouzian's willingness to consider all aspects of Poitier's life and image accounts for why this biography reads like a well-written, highly addictive novel. ((Reviewed March 15, 2004)) Copyright 2004 Booklist Reviews.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xi
Introduction 1(6)
PART I: POVERTY AND PROGRESS
1 Patches (1927-1943)
7(18)
2 Great Migrations (1943-1945)
25(18)
3 Stages (1945-1949)
43(20)
PART II: RACE MAN
4 Message Movies (1949-1952)
63(21)
5 Black Lists (1951-1954)
84(19)
6 Threats (1955-1957)
103(20)
7 Noble Savages (1956-1957)
123(22)
PART III: BLACK MAN'S BURDEN
8 Decisions (1957-1959)
145(22)
9 Burdens (1959-1961)
167(22)
10 Blues (1960-1962)
189(19)
11 Long Journeys (1963-1964)
208(23)
PART IV: ALONE IN THE PENTHOUSE
12 Crossroads (1965-1966)
231(22)
13 Useful Negroes (1966-1967)
253(24)
14 Last Hurrahs (1967-1968)
277(38)
PART V: THROUGH PLAYING GOD
15 Exiles (1967-1971)
315(22)
16 Survivors (1972-1978)
337(21)
17 Ghosts (1978-2002)
358(23)
Appendix: Performances by Sidney Poitier 381(16)
Notes 397(50)
Bibliography 447(20)
Index 467

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