Sidney Poitier

Sidney Poitier

Sidney Poitier has reached out to publicly thank the good Samaritan who taught him to read over six decades ago while working as a dishwasher at a New York diner.

In the Heat of the Night star Poitier dropped out of school when he was a young boy, but he finally mastered the art of the English language years later due to a stranger's random act of kindness.

The Oscar-winner has since come a long way and published four books, and now he's penned a special tribute to the patient man who gave him his grammar and comprehension skills.

He tells People magazine, "I left school at 12-and-a-half. But I wanted to be knowledgeable, even though at the time I did not know that such a word existed. I was working in Queens as a dishwasher, and one evening I was sitting in the dining room trying to read the newspaper.

"This Jewish waiter walked over, stood looking down at me and then said, 'What's new in the paper?' I said, after hesitating, 'I can't tell you because I can't read very well.'

"He said, 'Oh, would you like me to read with you?' "That night and every night, that man, whoever he was, sat next to me and taught me to read - not just the pronunciation and meaning of the words, but what a comma was, what a period was.

"I eventually had to go to work elsewhere and I never got a chance to go back and tell him what a gift he gave me.

"I never ever got an opportunity to thank him".

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