Ruby Dee and Sidney Poitier in the stage production A Raisin in the Sun, 1959. Photo by Friedman-Abeles. NYPL Digital Collections, Image ID: 5013050
We are saddened to learn of the passing of Sidney Poitier, a stalwart and trailblazing actor in film and theater as well as a civil rights activist and humanitarian. He was the first Black performer to win an Academy Award in the best actor category in 1963.
In this photo above from the Billy Rose Theatre Division archive at The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Poitier is pictured with Ruby Dee who he played alongside with in the 1959 stage production of A Raisin in the Sun. The performance was the first play written by a Black woman (Lorraine Hansberry), and directed by a Black man (Lloyd Richards) that was produced on Broadway—Frank Rich wrote in The New York Times in 1983 that it "changed American theater forever."
Join us in remembering Sidney Poitier's legacy with more images from this production as well as links to books by and about Poitier, and a selection of his films available to borrow.
Diana Sands and Sidney Poitier in the stage production A Raisin in the Sun, 1959. Photo by Friedman-Abeles. NYPL Digital Collections, Image ID: 5013054.
Sidney Poitier and Claudia McNeil in the stage production A Raisin in the Sun, 1959. Photo by Friedman-Abeles. NYPL Digital Collections, Image ID: 5013067
Glynn Turman and Sidney Poitier in the stage production A Raisin in the Sun, 1959. Photo by Friedman-Abeles. NYPL Digital Collections, Image ID: 57215120
The Measure of a Man: A Spiritual Autobiography by Sidney Poitier
The acclaimed actor reveals the depth, passion, and intellectual fervor that have driven his life and career, citing the elements of his childhood that gave him his sense of worth, family, and ethics and how these qualities are essential to spiritual development.
This Life by Sidney Poitier
The Academy Award-winning Black actor tells of his childhood in the Bahamas, his introduction to New York, his two marriages and tumultuous eight-year relationship with Diahann Carroll, and his numerous films.
Sidney Poitier: Man, Actor, Icon by Aram Goudsouzian
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.
Life Beyond Measure: Letters to My Great-Granddaughter by Sidney Poitier
The actor shares life lessons as imparted to his great-granddaughter, in a collection that touches on such topics as his boyhood memories of the Bahamas, the race barriers of pre-civil rights Hollywood, and his contributions as a diplomat and humanitarian.
Montaro Caine by Sidney Poitier
A first novel by the Presidential Medal of Freedom-winning actor and author of Life Beyond Measure follows the experiences of a corporate CEO who, two decades after discovering a coin made of materials not known on Earth, finds his views on faith, race and the meaning of life challenged by a wrenching battle for ownership of the coin.
Homer Smith, a journeyman laborer, is roaming the countryside, drifting and working. One day he stops at a farm and meets up with five nuns. Mother Maria, the highest-ranking sister, is convinced that God has answered her prayers and sent Homer to fix the roof. Staying and working in the peaceful calm of the Arizona desert, Homer learns more from the nuns than he ever could have anticipated.
An insurance check can allow the Youngers to escape their frustrating life in a crowded Chicago apartment, but escape means different things to each family member.
When the daughter of a white liberal newspaper publisher and the son of a Black retired postal worker want to get married, they meet with opposition from both their families.
A Black Philadelphia homicide detective reluctantly assists a white sheriff in solving a murder in 1960s North Carolina.
Images used in this post from the Friedman-Abeles Collection have been preserved, cataloged, and digitized through the generosity of Nancy Abeles Marks and the Joseph S. and Diane H. Steinberg Charitable Trust.