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He may have been one of the greatest actors of Hollywood’s Golden Age, but to Sidney Poitier’s kids, he was just their dad.
Poitier was the father of six daughters from two marriages. He shared four daughters—Beverly, Pamela, Sherri and Gina—with his first wife, Juanita Hardy, whom he was married to from 1950 to 1965. He had two daughters—Anika and Sydney—with his second wife, Joanna Shimkus, whom he was married to from 1976 until his death in 2022.
Poitier, who became the first Black man to win the Oscar for Best actor in 1964, died on the evening of January 6, 2022. He was 94 years old. “For me, the greatest of the ‘Great Trees’ has fallen: Sidney Poitier. My honor to have loved him as a mentor. Friend. Brother. Confidant. Wisdom teacher. The utmost, highest regard and praise for his most magnificent, gracious, eloquent life. I treasured him. I adored him. He had an enormous soul I will forever cherish. Blessings to Joanna and his world of beautiful daughters,” Oprah Winfey, one of Poitier’s longtime friends, said in a statement at the time.
Poitier was born on February 20, 1927, in Miami, Florida. He was the youngest of seven children. His parents, Evelyn Outten and Reginald James Poitier, were farmers in the Bahamas and owned a farm on Cat Island, which they would often travel from to Miami to sell tomatoes and other produce. Poitier was born unexpectedly in Miami two months premature while his parents were visiting. He remained in Miami for three months before he became healthy enough to come back with his parents to the Bahamas, where he was raised.
When Poitier was 15 years old, he was sent to Miami to live his brother. At 16 years old, he moved to New York City, where he worked as a waiter before he enlisted in the army. After the army, Poitier auditioned for a role with the American Negro Theater, which he won. After the production, Poitier was cast as the lead in Broadway’s Lysistrata before his breakout role as Gregory W. Miller in the 1955 movie Blackboard Jungle. After Blackboard Jungle, Poitier went on to star in movies like Porgy and Bess, A Raisin in the Sun, To Sir, with Love, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner and In the Heat of the Night. In 1964, he became the first Black man to win the Oscar for Best Actor for his role in the 1963 movies, Lilies of the Field. Throughout his career, Poitier received two more Oscar nominations, 10 Golden Globe nominations, two Emmy nominations, six BAFTA nominations and one Screen Actors Guild nomination. He was the oldest surviving male Academy Award winner until his death in 2022.
So who are Sidney Poitier’s kids and where are his children now? Read on for what we know about Sidney Poitier’s daughters and how many of them followed in their father’s footsteps.
Beverly Poitier is Sidney Poitier and Juanita Hardy’s first daughter and his eldest child of his six kids. Beverly is an artist and jewelry designer who has her own Etsy page, Poitier Henderson Jewelry, and collection with the jewelry brand Kazuri West. “A video producer and writer by trade, growing up Beverly loved to collect rocks,” her artist page on Kazuri West reads. “However, it wasn’t until she attended a jewelry show of a local Atlanta artist, that she thought about turning her affinity for stones into jewelry. Beverly began with books on jewelry design, then classes and workshops. She discovered endless ways to hone her craft. Today, her bold and striking designs are one of a kind, mainly because creating the same thing twice seems to be an impossible task for her. There’s always a variation on the theme. Her mediums of choice are the famed Kazuri beads, precious metals, gemstones and polymer clay. Kazuri gives her an added sense of satisfaction, because of the seemingly endless variations, and the story behind the beads. She calls the Kazuri beads the beads that keep giving. All who touch them are passing on a blessing.”
Beverly named her jewelry brand, Poitier Henderson Jewelry, after her father and her husband, her high school sweetheart, with whom she lives in the suburbs of north Atlanta, Georgia. “Beverly lives in the suburbs of Atlanta with her husband who is her high school sweetheart,” her artist page continues. “She named her company, Poitier-Henderson Jewelry after her two favorite guys, her father and her husband. You may have heard of her dad, legendary actor, Sidney Poitier. He loves her jewelry, but unfortunately she can’t get him to wear any of it! At least not yet, perhaps one day she’ll design a men’s line!”
Along with her career as an artist, Beverly has also worked in the casting department of the 1991 movie Separate But Equal, which starred her father. In 2002, she wrote and published her own fiction book, Nana, about a grandmother who can talk to ghosts and her 30-year-old single granddaughter (named Pamela after Beverly’s younger sister), whom she want to match make. “Self-publishing the book was extremely empowering. Why would I wait for a publishing house to tell me my work is good and put a stamp of approval on it or am I going to have enough confidence to put it out here myself?” Beverly said in an interview with Vidette Online in August 2001.
She continued, “Nana is my first novel and I really enjoyed writing it. It was extremely fast because the characters just seemed to take over. The idea came from a lot of places – from a little old lady I knew at church, members of my family and things like that.”
Birthday: April 12, 1954
Pamela Poitier is Sidney Poitier and Juanita Hardy’s second daughter and his second eldest child of his six kids. She was born on April 12, 1954, in New York City. Like her father, Pamela worked as an actor in movies like 1980’s Stir Crazy with Richard Pryor, 1990’s Ghost Dad and Air America, and 1997’s The Jackal with Bruce Willis, according to her IMDb. She also acted as an understudy on Broadway. Later in life, Pamela moved to her father’s home country of the Bahamas, where she filmed the documentary, Islands of Life, which raised awareness for the preservation of the Bahamas’ ecological diversity. She lives on the Cat Island in the central Bahamas.
“I live off the grid,” she told students at R.B. Hunt Elementary School in St. Augustine when presenting the film. “I get my electrical power from the sun, I catch rainwater on my roof and I use composting toilets.” She continued, “My mother was half Cherokee, and she raised me with a credo. That is that we don’t own any part of this planet, that we’re just passing through. And we’re obligated to leave it better than it was when we go. We’re going to depend upon all of you to help us clean up the Earth.”
Pamela also teaches acting classes in the Bahamas. “I decided to teach these classes to share my knowledge of Strasberg’s acting method that I learned from Lee Strasberg himself and then was asked by him to teach in his school in New York City,” Beverly told The Tribune in 2013. “I believe that there are many more talented people in the Bahamas like my father.”
Birthday: July 12, 1956
Sherri Poitier is Sidney Poitier and Juanita Hardy’s third daughter and his third eldest child of his six kids. She was born on July 12, 1956. Like her father, Sherri also worked as an actor in movies like 1977’s A Piece of the Action and 2001’s The Fighting Temptations. According to The Sun, Sherri has also worked as a cook.
Gina Patrice Poitier is Sidney Poitier and Juanita Hardy’s youngest daughter and was his fourth eldest child of his six kids before her death on May 27, 2018, at the age of 57. Gina lived in Pleasantville, New York, for the first seven years of her life before her family moved to Stuyvesant, New York, according to her obituary. In high school, she met “the love of her life and soul mate, Gaetan Gouraige.” The two married in 1988 and went on to welcome four children. Her youngest child, Emmanuel, passed before she died.
After she graduated from high school, Gina went on to attend Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey before she transferred to the State University of New York in Albany to be “closer to the aforementioned love of her life,” according to her obituary. After she graduated from SUNY Albany with a fine arts degree, Gina went on to attend the American College of Applied Arts in Atlanta, where she graduated with a degree in Fashion Merchandise. She went on to open her own plus-size clothing boutique, Bejai Designs. She’s also worked as an administrative assistant, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Gina died on the afternoon of May 27, 2018. She was 57 years old. According to her obituary, her death was “quick and unexpected.” “It is a gross understatement to say that she will be missed,” her obituary read. It continued, “As the youngest child Gina, was loved tremendously, spoiled by her mother and her second Mother ‘Mama Jean’. Gina spent many a day on her father’s lap escaping the strict discipline her expected from her sisters.”
Birthday: February 29, 1972
Anika Poitier is Sidney Poitier and Joanna Shimkus’ eldest daughter and the second youngest child of his six kids. She was born on February 29, 1972, in New York City. Like her father and sisters, Anika also worked as an actor in movies like Myth America, The Devil Cats and Swordfish with Halle Berry and John Travolta. She’s also worked as a director on projects like The Choir, Black Irish and Yard Sale. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter in 2013, Anita revealed how she and her sisters would often dress up their father while he was on set. “We’d make him call room service,” she said. “And he’d have to open the door with pink barrettes and lipstick on.”
Birthday: November 15, 1973
Sydney Tamiia Portier is Sidney Poitier and Joanna Shimkus’ youngest daughter and the youngest child of his six kids. She was born on November 15, 1973, in Los Angeles. Like her father and her sisters, Sydney also worked as an actor in TV shows like First Years, Abby, Joan of Arcadia, Veronica Mars, Private Practice and Carter. She also acted in movies like Park Day, Clinical, Quentin Tarantino’s Death Proof. She graduated from New York University’s Tisch School of Arts with a bachelor’s degree in acting. She’s married musician Dorian Heartsong, with whom she has one child, a son.
In a 2013 interview with The Hollywood Reporter, she revealed that her favorite movie by her father was To Sir, With Love. “He played this empowering teacher, and I just remember feeling super proud that he was my dad,” she said. “The world knows him as this iconic, legendary, historical figure. But he’s also just a really, really good dad,” she added.
For more about Sidney Poitier, read his 2007 autobiography, The Measure of a Man: A Spiritual Autobiography. The New York Times best seller looks back on the Oscar winner’s life and career, from his childhood on the tiny Cat Island of the Bahamas to his roles in movies like A Raisin in the Sun and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? “In the kind of place where I grew up,” Poitie writes in The Measure of a Man. “What’s coming at you is the sound of the sea and the smell of the wind and momma’s voice and the voice of your dad and the craziness of your brothers and sisters…and that’s it.” The book—which explores the measures that make Poitier a man, husband, father and an actor—also sees the award-winning actor reflect on the racial barrier he overcame to become one of the most successful stars in the Golden Age of Hollywood. “I have no wish to play the pontificating fool, pretending that I’ve suddenly come up with the answers to all life’s questions,” Poitier writes in The Measure of a Man
. “Quite that contrary, I began this book as an exploration, an exercise in self-questing. In other words, I wanted to find out, as I looked back at a long and complicated life, with many twists and turns, how well I’ve done at measuring up to the values I myself have set.”
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