Guess Who’s Not Coming To D.C.

SidneySidney Poitier’s powerful performance in Stanley Kramer’s 1967 film “Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner” has become a part of the lore leading to the ascendancy of Barack Obama to the highest office in the United States of America. So I phoned Sidney today to see if he’d gone to D.C. No, he hasn’t. And he has no plans to attend the inauguration or any of its functions or Washington at all.

On the phone, Poitier was, as usual, warm and expressive. I asked if he knew Obama — and yes, he has met him and further, Poitier was happy to let me know, “I supported him totally and voted for him.” No, he has not been asked to be any part of the Obama team. He is no longer involved in politics and departed his post as an Ambassador from the Bahamas several years ago, he said.

“I have lots of living — not politics — to do,” said Sidney. “I am personally interested in seeing the world as a single community. We have to be involved in the family of man, and there are ways to better it to be interested in the health of its elements and not to plunder or damage it.”

He philosophized as only he can on the welfare of the world and as I suspected, he is at work on another book in which we will, no doubt, learn more about this (former) actor-philosopher’s hopes for a better world: through deeds, not words. But when I asked if he would be interested in seeing a new department — or secretary — of/for the arts, he declined political activities at all. But I’m sure he’d accept an invitation from the someone whose program he thoroughly endorsed to reach the Presidency.

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  1. Kat Kramer says:

    Hi there Army,
    I read your column about Sidney Poitier and “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,” yes, it’s all over the news, and has been for many months leading up to the inauguration. It’s true that my father was the “great instigator of social change and a champion for social consciousness.” He would be so proud today to see Obama!
    Stanley Kramer began as the leading voice for social change in film with “Home of the Brave” in 1947, and he continued to make films that dealt with the civil rights issues – “The Defiant Ones,” “Pressure Point,” and of course, “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.” Sidney has asked my father, “are you sure the country’s ready for this type of subject?” Stanley said “No, defiantly not…..but we’re going to make it anyway.” There is a defining moment in the film where Spencer Tracy’s character asks Sidney Poitier’s character, “aren’t you worried about having children, interracial marriage is against the law in 16 states?” Sidney Poitier’s character replies, “Of course there’s going to be children, we think he will be President of The United States or at least Secretary of State…” How prophetic was that? And the two characters played by Sidney and Katharine Hepburn, met in Hawaii. My father was way ahead of his time. The American Press compared Obama’s Presidency to “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” and Obama’s reply was “I am home for dinner!”
    On another note, Army, my mother and I are excited because this coming Saturday night at The Hollywood Palladium, the Stanley Kramer Award will be given to Dan Jinks and Bruce Cohen for the film “Milk,” at The Producer’s Guild of America Awards. We selected this film because it is so timely and carries on the Kramer Tradition. In a way, it mirrors “Dinner” because when it came out in 1967, inter-racial marriage was against the law in 16 states. With the impact of “Dinner,” those laws were changed. “Milk” deals with Proposition 6 (a ballot measure that sought to bar gay people from teaching in California schools), but essentially it was talking about Proposition 8 (the state’s anti-gay marriage initiative. My dad fought for civil rights, and made films about the issues of our times. I’m hoping “Milk” will have the same effect on the final outcome of Prop 8, as “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” had on interracial marriage.
    Thank you,
    Katharine Kramer
    The Stanley Kramer Library
    KnK Productions Inc.
    knkproductioninc@cs.com

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