Sidney Poitier is widely regarded as one of the greatest actors in the history of cinema. He made his mark in Hollywood during the 1950s and 1960s, breaking down barriers as a black actor in a predominantly white industry.
But his personal life has also been one of great significance, particularly his love story with his wife of 45 years, Joanna Shimkus.
Poitier and Shimkus met on the set of the 1965 film “The Slender Thread.” At the time, Poitier was already a well-established actor, having starred in such classics as “The Defiant Ones,” “Lilies of the Field,” and “To Sir, with Love.” Shimkus, on the other hand, was a relatively unknown actress, having only appeared in a few films prior to “The Slender Thread.”
Despite the fact that Poitier was already married at the time, he was immediately drawn to Shimkus. In an interview with People magazine, Poitier recalled their first meeting on the set: “I saw this young lady, and she took my breath away. I had never seen anyone quite like her before.”
But Poitier didn’t act on his feelings right away. In fact, it wasn’t until the filming had wrapped that he finally mustered up the courage to ask Shimkus out on a date. And even then, it was only because his first choice had turned him down.
“I had asked another young lady out, and she had said no,” Poitier said. “So I went to Joanna and said, ‘Would you like to go out with me?’ And she said, ‘Yes, I’d love to.'”
Their first date was a memorable one. Poitier took Shimkus to a restaurant on Sunset Boulevard, where they talked for hours. “We just had a wonderful time,” Poitier recalled. “We talked about everything under the sun.”
After that, the two became inseparable. Poitier was still married to his first wife, Juanita Hardy, at the time, but he knew that his relationship with Shimkus was something special. “I knew that I was in love with her,” he said. “I had never felt that way about anyone before.”
It wasn’t until after Poitier’s divorce from Hardy was finalized that he and Shimkus were able to get married. They tied the knot in 1976 and went on to have two daughters together, Anika and Sydney.
Despite the challenges that come with any long-term relationship, Poitier and Shimkus remained devoted to each other for over four decades.
In his autobiography, “The Measure of a Man,” Poitier wrote about the deep love and respect he had for his wife: “Joanna has been my partner in every sense of the word. She is the mother of our children, the keeper of our home, the sounding board for my every thought and feeling. She has been my closest friend, my ally, my confidante, my lover.”
Poitier and Shimkus have remained together to this day, a testament to the enduring power of love. Their love story is one that has inspired countless people over the years, and it serves as a reminder that true love can be found in the most unexpected of places.