A Raisin in the Sun: Question No.1

February 7, 2008 1:00:54 PM PST
Don't miss the ABC World Premiere Movie Event: A Raisin in the Sun. February 25th at 8 p.m.Question: A Raisin in the Sun was the first play written by an African American woman to open on Broadway. A new television movie adaptation of this moving story stars Sean Combs as Walter Lee, Jr. Who played the role in the original?

Answer: Sidney Poitier played Walter Lee, Jr. in both the original Broadway play in 1959 and the first film adaptation in 1961. Shortly after appearing in A Raisin in the Sun, Poitier became the first black man to win an Academy Award for Best Actor for his role in Lilies of the Field in 1963.

He was born in 1927 in Miami, Florida and grew up in the Village of Cat Island in the Bahamas. When he moved to Nassau at age 11, he was first exposed to film. He became enthralled and moved to New York when he was 16 where he worked as a dishwasher and janitor for the American Negro Theater in exchange for acting lessons.

His first acting role came when he was the understudy for Harry Belafonte in the play "Days of Our Youth." He made his film debut in 1950 in the controversial film "No Way Out", making him a hero is his native Bahamas. He continued to act in some of the most stirring and electrifying films ever made, including "In the Heat of the Night", "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?", and "Cry, the Beloved Country".

After over 50 years and more than 55 roles, Poitier leaves a legacy of strength and commitment to changing the world through film.

Sean Combs is reprising the role of Walter Lee, Jr., which brought him acclaim on Broadway in the 2004 revival of "A Raisin in the Sun." It also marks the first time he will executive-produce a movie.

A Raisin in the Sun" will air on Monday, February 25 (8:00-11:00 p.m., ET), the night after ABC's live telecast of the 80th Annual Academy Awards.