Sidney Poitier went on to feature in 55 films and TV shows after landing his first main part in the film Blackboard Jungle in 1955. He will be remembered for breaking down Hollywood’s racial barriers.
No man succeeds without a good lady behind him, as the adage goes, and this was the case for the Bahamian-American actor, who married Canadian actress Joanna Shimkus in 1976.
He’d previously been married, had 4 kids, and had an affair when he met Shimkus.
Poitier was the youngest of seven children, and he spent his first 10 years of life on Cat Island, Bahamas, where his dad ran a farm. The family would fly to Miami to market things, which is where Poitier was born three months prematurely, granting him U.S. citizenship.
He came to the Bahamas’ capital, Nassau, when he was 15, and participated in World War II as a youngster after lying about his age.
He worked as a dishwasher after leaving the army until an audition got him a job with the American Negro Theatre in Harlem, New York. It was the aspiring actor’s second audition after being informed he “could barely read” and couldn’t be an actor with his accent after his first audition at the age of 18.
Undaunted by the harsh refusal, he went away and bought himself a radio to mimic the accents he heard, read every newspaper and magazine he could get his hands on, and enlisted the assistance of an elderly Jewish waiter at the restaurant where he worked as a dishwasher to assist him read and broaden his vocabulary.
He returned to the production firm a year and a half later for another audition, which landed him a spot on the show and a profession that would earn him several honours.
He became the first Black actor to win an Oscar for the film “Lilies of the Field” more than a decade after he initially debuted on our screens. His most important performance, however, was in “The Lost Man,” when he met his future wife, Joanna Shimkus. The film was out four years after Poitier and his first wife, Juanita Hardy, split.
It was also the year after the termination of his nine-year relationship with actress Diahann Carroll.
Sidney’s first marriage lasted 15 years with Juanita Hardy. They were married in 1950 and divorced in 1965. His marriage to Joanna Shimkus, on the other hand, lasted the test of time, and they had two children.
She supposed they were just intended to be together, Joanna explained in 1998.
Between 1972 and 2010, Shimkus took a vacation from performing to educate their daughters Anika and Sidney, who have both followed in their parents’ footsteps.
Shimkus was an executive producer on “Black Irish,” which Anika directed. Likewise, Sidney has starred in Quentin Tarantino’s “Death Proof” and “Veronica Mars.”
In an interview Poitier explained how they’ve made it work, saying, there is one crucial component his wife has helped him discover over the years, and that is the significance of communicating love for one another on a daily basis.
His wife and his kids mean the most to him, Sidney told in 2016, while Shimkus added another aspect to making their relationship last: they’ve been together 49 years and she is a wonderful chef. Every night, she cooks. She takes excellent care of him.
Despite his numerous accomplishments in life, including an honorary Academy Award for his efforts in the entertainment business, the Presidential Medal of Freedom from the United States, and a knighthood from the Queen, he never lost sight of the significance of family.
The celebrated actor would frequently spend time with his wife, ex-wife, six kids, eight granddaughters, and three great-grandchildren.
Many instances of couples managing an interracial relationship may be found throughout history.
However, according to Joanna, it was not an issue for her and her husband.
She says in the documentary Sidney Poitier: One Bright Light, “I grew up in Canada and I never really had any kind of prejudice — it’s unlike America. I just never had those feelings. And we’ve never had a problem, actually. It could be that we lead a very quiet life. It could be that it’s just the way it is, I don’t really know. But I never really did see him as a Black man. I mean, I know he is Black, but I just saw him as a man, and he was just a wonderful person. An amazing human being.”
Sidney Poitier, rest in peace. You will be remembered in the hearts of people all around the world for your skill, elegance, and perseverance in the face of hardship.