Hollywood lost one of its greats when Sidney Poitier passed away at the age of 94 on Friday January 7. The first Bahamian and African American to win an Academy Award as Best Actor in 1964 for Lilies of the Field, Sidney led a trailblazing life. Raised in the Bahamas until he was 15, the star would start his career on Broadway before taking over Tinseltown with hits such as Blackboard Jungle, The Defiant Ones, Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner and To Sir With Love. Sidney even received a knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II in 1974 and was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009.
He was just as fulfilled in his personal life as well! After marrying Juanita Hardy in 1950, the couple would go on to welcome four daughters: Beverly, Pamela, Sherri, and Gina. In 1965, the pair divorced. Sidney then married his The Lost Man costar Joanna Shimkus in 1976, welcoming two daughters themselves: Sydney and Anika. Keep reading to find out more about his six children, below.
Beverly is the oldest daughter of Sidney and Juanita. While she dipped her toe in Hollywood, working in the casting department for the 1991 film Separate But Equal, Beverly has mostly stayed away from the spotlight. However, she has a few credits as a video producer, as well. She also has her own line of jewelry she sells on Etsy and self-published her own book in 2001 called Nana.
“Nana is my first novel and I really enjoyed writing it. It was extremely fast because the characters just seemed to take over,” Beverly told Vidette Online. “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.”
Pamela, born on April 12, 1954, decided to follow in her father’s footsteps as an actor. She landed roles in 1980’s Stir Crazy with Richard Pryor, 1990’s Ghost Dad and 1997’s The Jackal with Bruce Willis. Later in life, Pamela moved back to her father’s homeland of the Bahamas. There, she created the documentary Islands of Life, which brought awareness to the preservation of the ecological diversity of the Bahamas.
Pamela also set up a school to teach acting on the island as well. “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.”
Born on July 12, 1956, Sherri also got the acting bug early on. She had a role in the 1977 film A Piece of the Action and appeared in the 2001’s The Fighting Temptations. After her acting career stalled, Sherri took a break from the spotlight and now keeps relatively private. More recently, Sherri has dabbled in the culinary arts as a cook, per The Sun.
Gina graduated from the State University of New York in Albany and also earned a degree in Fashion Merchandise from the American College of Applied Arts in Atlanta. She went on to open a designer boutique called Bejai Designs. She married Gaetan Gouraige in 1988 and the pair had four children. Sadly, she passed away on May 27, 2018, at the age of 57.
Sydney Tamiia Poitier
Sydney Tamiia, born November 15, 1973, had the most success in Hollywood out of Sidney’s kids. After graduating from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts with a bachelor’s degree in acting, she landed a role in a drama series called First Years. She went on to appear in TV shows such as Joan of Arcadia, Veronica Mars, Chicago P.D. and Homecoming. Sydney is married to Dorian Heartsong, and they share one son.
Sydney once revealed 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 told The Hollywood Reporter in 2013. “The world knows him as this iconic, legendary, historical figure. But he’s also just a really, really good dad,” she added.
Anika was born on February 29, 1972 in Manhattan. Hollywood has also called to her as she has credits as both director and actor. More notable roles were in 2001’s Swordfish alongside Halle Berry and Yard Sale from 2010. In the same interview with her sister Sidney for The Hollywood Reporter, Anita revealed how the girls would hilariously dress up their father while he was on location. “We’d make him call room service,” she said. “And he’d have to open the door with pink barrettes and lipstick on.”