The late icon Sidney Poitier tears up when he recalls kind waiter who taught him how to read

The world lost one of its greatest actors when Sidney Poitier died last week at the age of 94. He was a pioneer, and the Hollywood actor is known to be the first black Movie star And the first black man to win an Oscar for Best Actor.

Poitier wore many hats. He was an actor, director, and civil rights icon loved by many. He came from the Bahamas to New York and dreams of making it to Hollywood.

However, Poitier only attended school for two years, so he could not read well.


Fortunately, the legendary Hollywood actor met a cute Jewish bartender who would change his life forever.

While fans and fellow actors mourned Poitier’s loss, a clip from his 2013 interview with CBS Sunday Morning’s Leslie Stahl surfaced online. In the emotional episode, he recalled how the waiter taught him to read and write in English.

Sidney Poitier when he was younger

At the time, Poitier worked as a dishwasher in a New York restaurant to support himself, and he regularly brought newspapers to his shifts. One day, while he was trying to read a newspaper, an elderly Jewish waiter saw him sitting at a table and asked him what’s in the news.

The famous Hollywood actor then explained that he couldn’t read in English because he “didn’t have a great deal of education,” so he couldn’t tell him what was in the papers.

He asked me: Do you want me to read with you? I told him, “Yes, if you wish.”

The waiter taught him to read English after his shift. At this point in the story, Poiter held back tears as he recalled the kindness of this stranger. The man had nothing to gain from his education, but he still did no matter.

Sidney Poitier in one of his films

“Every night after that he would come and sit with me, and teach me what the comma was and why it was there, and what the periods were, what the colons were, and what the conditional,” Potter said.

“He was teaching me that there are syllables and how to differentiate them into one word, thus learning how to pronounce them. Every night.”

The daily lessons paid off, and the knowledge that the waiter shared with him brought Poitiers to places he had only dreamed of once. He soon got an acting apprenticeship with a theater company, and became one of Hollywood’s biggest stars.

Sidney Poitier in 2013 "Sunday morning" An interview with Leslie Stahl

Most Hollywood films thereafter presented black characters negatively, and Poitier changed this by playing more subtle roles in films. The actor’s most prolific works include “To Sir With Love”, “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” and In the Heat of the Night.

“I didn’t go into filmmaking to turn someone else’s vision of me,” Poitier said of his decision to play straight roles. “If the screen didn’t make room for me in their scenario structure, I would go back. I couldn’t do it. I just couldn’t do it.”

He had enjoyed a illustrious acting career, but he had great regrets.

Sidney Poitier in one of his films

“One of my biggest regrets in life is that I went on to be a very successful actor, and one day I tried to find him, but it was too late, and I’m sorry I never got a chance to really thank him,” Poitier revealed on an episode of the What It Takes podcast.

Poitier also paid tribute to the bartender in interviews with Oprah and in several award acceptance speeches. It is clear how generous the man was.

Aside from his great acting skills, Poitier was known for being a civil rights advocate. He joined the fight for racial justice, and was awarded an Honorary Knight of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II in 1974. He was also awarded the Kennedy Center Honorary Medal and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Watch Poitier’s emotional 2013 interview in the video below.

Rest in peace, Sidney Poitier.

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