Sidney Poitier Sums Up the Meaning of Life

Sidney Poitier Sums Up the Meaning of Life

Do you watch CBS Sunday Morning? It is the best thing on television, beating out even Downton Abbey in my book, though that’s not exactly an even comparison. Last Sunday morning I had it on while I was dressing–okay I wasn’t quite dressing I was just getting out of the […]

Do you watch CBS Sunday Morning? It is the best thing on television, beating out even Downton Abbey in my book, though that’s not exactly an even comparison. Last Sunday morning I had it on while I was dressing–okay I wasn’t quite dressing I was just getting out of the shower, and there was Sidney Poitier. He in a rather nice jacket and me in a towel and shower cap. Speaking of uneven comparisons.

Sydney Poitier in Patch of Blue promo
Sydney Poitier in A Patch of Blue. In this 1965 movie, Poitier was the first black actor to kiss a white woman on screen.

I have long admired Sidney Poitier for a million reasons.

The CBS piece was wonderful. I had not known he came to this country from the Bahamas at age 16, practically illiterate, and apparently naughty, because his mama had sent him there to go to school under the watchful eye of an older relative.

Poitier_porgyandbess
In Porgy and Bess

He was the youngest of seven, born three months premature, and he nearly died. A palm reader told his mama he was going to be all right and that he would “walk with kings,” as he tells it, and he did.

Poitier - Lillies of the Field
In Lilies of the Field

But for all his stories and his accomplishments, for all the barriers he broke, standards he upheld, and lives he no doubt inspired, what stopped me in my tracks–well I had already stopped and was standing there dripping wet–was his last line.

to-sir-with-love
To Sir With Love

Here, from the CBS Sunday Morning website, where you can read the transcript in its entirety,  is the last portion of Lesley Stahl’s interview, where she summarizes his storied career and gets around to asking him about the novel he’s written.

“…And now, at age 86, after a lifetime of accolades, Poitier has written a novel, called Montaro Caine.

/ Random House

He spent years writing in long hand and on the computer. “Wow, it took me a very long time.”

It’s two genres mixed together: mystery and science fiction. For Sidney Poitier, the novel is a chance to reflect on life and all its meanings.

“I was not intending to make an impression on the people who would read the book,” he explained. “I was finding release for myself within myself. I was looking for who I am at this point in my life.”

“Did you find out?” Stahl asked.

“Somewhat, yes.”

“Who are you?”

“I’m a good person,” Poitier replied.

Whoa, I thought, in my towel and shower cap, oblivious until now to the metaphor of my nakedness. What it said to me was that is all that matters. A life lived his life with integrity and with intention. A life well-lived. A good person.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about this.

CBS News Photo Gallery

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner
Guess Who's Coming to Dinner

 

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