Sidney Poitier

Hollywood trailblazer Sidney Poitier was born Feb. 20, 1927, in Miami to Bahamian parents. After Army service, he joined the American Negro Theater, making a 1946 Broadway debut in "Lysistrata." In 1950, Poitier made his screen debut in No Way Out. Through such 1950s films as Blackboard Jungle and Edge of the City, Poitier built up a strong presence.

He scored a breakthrough with 1958's The Defiant Ones, becoming the first black actor to be nominated for a leading-role Academy Award. Five years later, Poitier won the Best Actor Oscar for Lilies of the Field and was a dominant star of the '60s with memorable roles in To Sir, with Love, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner and In the Heat of the Night.

He added directing to his resume in the '70s with Uptown Saturday Night and Stir Crazy, among others. Since the '80s, his screen appearances (Sneakers, The Jackal) have been infrequent.