Joanna Shimkus is a retired Canadian actress. She is the wife of Bahamian-American actor and diplomat Sir Sidney Poitier, and mother of actress Sydney Tamiia Poitier.
Shimkus was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, to a Lithuanian-Jewish fatherand a mother of Irish descent.
Her father worked for the Royal Canadian Navy. She attended a convent schoo and was brought up in Montreal, Quebec.
She went to Paris at age nineteen, where she worked as a fashion model and soon attracted the attention of movie people on the lookout for new talent.
She made her debut in 1964, in Jean Aurel‘s film De l’amour. She was then noticed by film director Robert Enrico, who selected her to appear in three of his films; Les aventuriers (1967), opposite Alain Delon and Lino Ventura, Tante Zita (1968) and Ho! (1968).
She also appeared in Joseph Losey‘s film Boom! (1968), opposite Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, and The Lost Man (1969), opposite Sidney Poitier. Her film career continued until the early 1970s, including roles in L’Invitée (1969), The Virgin and the Gypsy(1970), The Marriage of a Young Stockbroker (1971) and A Time for Loving (1972).
She married Sir Sidney Poitier in 1976, and they have two daughters: Anika and Sydney Tamiia, who is also an actress. Shimkus has three grandchildren; two from Anika and one from Sydney Tamiia.