Joanna Shimkus Biography

(Canadian Film Actress and Wife of Actor Sydney Poitier)

Birthday: October 30, 1943 (Scorpio)

Born In: Halifax Regional Municipality, Canada

Joanna Shimkus is a Canadian-born actress, model and producer, best known for starring in movies, such as ‘Zita’ and ‘The Virgin and the Gypsy’. Joanna began her career as a model in Montreal and soon moved to Paris to further boost her position in the fashion industry. It was during her modelling days in France that she grabbed the attention of the noted filmmaker Jean Aurel, who cast her in his film ‘All About Loving’ in 1964. After that movie became a hit, it did not take long for Joanna to establish herself as a supporting actress in French movies and TV series. Her next breakthrough came when she was cast as Annie in the successful movie 'Zita'. After that, she never had to look back and starred in acclaimed movies, such as 'The Lost Man', 'The Uninvited', and 'The Marriage of a Young Stockbroker'. However, despite a successful career, she decided to retire from the industry when she was at the peak of her career in order to focus on her other interests. She recently turned producer with the TV series ‘The Force’, in which she also appears in the role of ‘Margaret Winters’. She was also seen in a minor role in the short film ‘Yard Sale’.

Quick Facts

Canadian Celebrities Born In October

Also Known As: Joanna Shimkus Poitier, Joanna Marie Shimkus

Age: 80 Years, 80 Year Old Females


Spouse/Ex-: Sir Sidney Poitier (m. 1976)

children: Anika Poitier, Sydney Tamiia Poitier

Born Country: Canada

Jewish Actresses Actresses

Ancestry: Lithuanian Canadian

After graduating from the ‘Convent of the Sisters of the Holy Name’ school in Montreal, Joanna Shimkus embarked on a modelling career in her country. She then moved to France to be part of the couture collection for ‘Elle’ magazine. By the age of 19, Joanna had established herself as a fashion model in Paris. During her modelling days, she attracted the attention of many filmmakers, who wanted to cast her in their movies. She made her film debut in 'All About Loving' (1964) as Sophie. The comedy, which was a movie adaption of Stendhal's novel, was directed by Jean Aurel and starred Anna Karina, Elsa Martinelli and Michel Piccoli in leading roles. Not only the movie became a hit in France and Italy, it was also positively received by the critics. She followed this up with appearances in 'Six in Paris' (1965), 'Idoli Controluce' (1965), and the TV series 'Les cinq dernières minutes' in the episode 'Des fleurs pour l'inspecteur' (1965).

Despite her early success, Joanna was not cast as a lead character and had to settle for minor and guest roles until 1968. In 1966, she starred in the comedy drama 'Who Are You, Polly Maggoo?' before being seen in the adventure film 'The Last Adventure' in 1967. Directed by Robert Enrico, 'The Last Adventure' was a hit at the box office and Joanna's portrayal of Laetitia Weiss was also appreciated by the critics. In 1968, she was cast in what was to become her highest grossing film: 'Zita'. The drama movie was directed by Robert Enrico and starred Joanna and Katina Paxinou in leading roles. The unique storyline of the movie impressed both the critics and the audiences alike. It was also nominated for several awards, including the Best Film award at the ‘Karlovy Vary International Film Festival’. Its success provided Joanna a much-needed boost to her acting career. Her other movies which released that year included 'Boom!’, wherein she played the character of Miss Black, and the crime drama 'Ho!', in which she essayed the role of Benedicte. In 1969, she starred in the Robert Alan Aurthur drama film 'The Lost Man' alongside her future husband Sidney Poitier. Released by ‘Universal Studios’, the movie received a lukewarm response in cinemas, but slowly began to gain popularity as the years went by. She also starred in Vittorio De Seta’s drama 'The Uninvited' in the same year.

In 1970, Joanna featured in the drama romance 'The Virgin and the Gypsy' as Yvette, her most popular role till date. Directed by Christopher Miles, the movie was an adaption of D. H. Lawrence's novel of the same name and unraveled the life of a blossoming woman. Not only was it a commercial hit, but also got nominated for a ‘Golden Globe Award’. Joanna received a ‘Star of Tomorrow’ nomination for her portrayal. Her winning streak continued well into the next year when she starred in the comedy 'The Marriage of a Young Stockbroker' (1971) alongside Richard Benjamin and Adam West. The Lawrence Turman-directed movie fared well at the box office after its release. She starred in her last film 'A Time for Loving' as Joan McLaine in 1972, which was a commercial hit as well. Despite several hits to her credit, Joanna decided to take a step back from acting at the peak of her career to focus on her personal life. More recently, she produced the TV movie 'The Force' (2010) and the short 'Black Irish' (2011). In 2010, she was also seen in the short film 'Yard Sale'.
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Family & Personal Life

Joanna Shimkus or Lady Poitier was born on October 30, 1943 in Halifax, Nova Scotia in Canada. While her mother was a homemaker, her father served in the Royal Canadian Navy. Her father had Lithuanian-Jewish roots, while her mother was of Irish descent. Joanna spent her early years in her grandmother's farm in Halifax, where she was surrounded by animals. However, the family soon moved to Montreal when her mother started working. Joanna married Sir Sidney Poitier, a Bahamian-American actor, director and diplomat, in January 1976. Poitier became the first black actor to win the Academy Award for Best Actor. The couple has two children: Sydney Tamiia Poitier and Anika Poitier. Their daughter Sydney is also an accomplished actress. Sidney Poitier died in January 2022.

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