The Broadway show, as well as the film adaptation made in 1961 of A Raisin in the Sun, included prominent black actors and moguls such as Sidney Poitier, Ruby Dee, Claudia McNeil, Diana Sands and Glynn Turman.
Sidney Poitier is most known for being the first Black person to win an Academy Award for Best Actor for his role in Lillies in a Field in 1963.
Ruby Dee is a critically acclaimed African American actor and was a civil rights activist during the Civil Rights Movement. The New York Drama Critics’ Circle named A Raisin in the Sun the best play of 1959. In 1960, A Raisin in the Sun was nominate for 4 Tony Awards, which recognize achievement in live Broadway theatre.
Lorraine Hansberry Documentary Project co-director /producer Tracy Heather Strain interviewed Ruby Dee in February 2009.
The nominations were as follows:
“Lorraine Hansberry’s landmark drama was one of the first on Broadway to examine African-American life on the cusp of the civil rights era. Walter Younger and his mother, Lena, both yearn to move their family out of Chicago’s Southside ghetto. When Lena’s late husband’s insurance check arrives, Lena hopes to use it to buy a house in a white neighborhood — while Walter hopes to invest it in a liquor business.”
Sidney Poitier for Best Actor in a Play
Claudia McNeil for Best Actress in a Play
Lloyd Richards for Best Direction of a Play
Lloyd George Richards was a Canadian-American theatre director, actor, and dean of the Yale School of Drama from 1979 to 1991, and Yale University professor emeritus.
“Among Richards’ accomplishments are his staging the original production of Lorraine Hansberry‘s A Raisin in the Sun, debuting on Broadway to standing ovations on 11 March 1959, and in 1984 he introduced August Wilson to Broadway in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. As head of the National Playwrights Conference at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center, he helped develop the careers ofWendy Wasserstein, Christopher Durang, Lee Blessing and David Henry Hwang. Richards died of heart failure on his eighty-seventh birthday in New York City.Mr. Richards also taught Moscow Art Theatre acting technique under Paul Mann at the Actor’s Workshop in New York alongside Morris Carnovsky.”
The 1961 film adaptation also received several awards and recognition’s: The National Board of Review recognized Ruby Dee with the Best Supporting Actress Award for her role in the film version of A Raisin in the Sun.
Sidney Poitier and Claudia McNeil were nominated for Golden Globe Awards for their roles in the film.