Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Pop History Moment: Poitier Earns Oscar Gold

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketAt the 36th Academy Awards - handed out on this day in 1964 - Sidney Poitier became the first black man to win a Best Actor Oscar for his role in the film Lilies of the Field. The ceremony gave white liberals - still reeling from the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in November 1963 - the chance to make it look like they were doing something for the nation's blacks. Said Poitier to the New York Times, 'I'd like to think [my winning] will help someone, but I don't believe my Oscar will be a sort of magic wand that will wipe away restrictions on job opportunities for Negro actors.'

In 1939 Hattie McDaniel became Oscar's first black alumnus when she won Best Supporting Actress for Gone With the Wind; after Poitier's win the next (at least among actors) would be a Best Supporting Actor trophy for Louis Gossett, Jr. in 1982's An Officer and a Gentleman.
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Seumas Gagne said...

No black actors won for 51 years??

michael sean morris said...

Thank you Eagle-Eyes Gagne! You caught me out, and I'll make the necessary corrections. For your edification here are the full stats on the black winners of Academy Awards. ~ MSM

Acting Awards

1939 - Hattie McDaniel (Supp.)
1963 - Sidney Poitier (Lead)
1982 - Louis Gossett Jr. (Supp.)
1989 - Denzel Washington (Supp.)
1990 - Whoopi Goldberg (Supp.)
1996 - Cuba Gooding Jr. (Supp.)
2001 - Denzel Washington (Lead), Halle Berry (Lead)
2004 - Jamie Foxx (Lead), Morgan Freeman (Supp.)
2006 - Forest Whitaker (Supp.), Jennifer Hudson (Supp.)

Technical Awards

1958 - Sam Leavitt (Cinematography)
1971 - Isaac Hayes (Original Song)
1983 - Irene Cara (Original Song)
1984 - Prince (Original Music Score), Stevie Wonder (Original Song)
1985 - Lionel Richie (Original Song)
1986 - Herbie Hancock (Original Music Score)
1988 - Willie D. Burton (Sound)
1989 - Freddie Francis (Cinematrography), Russell Williams II (Sound)
1990 - Russell Williams II (Sound)
2005 - 36 Mafia (Original Song)
2006 - Willie D. Burton (Sound)

Special Awards

1948 - To James Baskett, for playing Uncle Remus in "Song of the South"

1995 - Quincy Jones - Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award

2002 - Sidney Poitier - Honorary

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