Inside Sidney Poitier and Joanna Shimkus' 46-Year Marriage: 'We Were Just Destined to Be'

Sidney Poitier and Joanna Shimkus shared a decades-long romance.

The groundbreaking actor died Thursday night at age 94, PEOPLE confirmed Friday morning. Known for films like Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, In the Heat of the Night and Lilies of the Field, Poitier became the first-ever Black man to win the Best Actor Oscar on April 13, 1964.

Poitier first married Juanita Hardy in 1950 and they divorced in 1965. They shared four daughters: Beverly, Pamela, Sherri and Gina. He later wed Shimkus, a Canadian actress, in 1976, and they went on to have two daughters together: Anika and Sydney.

While receiving a lifetime achievement award in 2016, Poitier told PEOPLE, "My wife and my children mean the most to me." Shimkus added at the time of their secret to a lasting relationship: "We've been together 49 years and I'm a good cook. I cook every night. ... I take good care of him."

In an emotional interview with Oprah Winfrey for O, The Oprah Magazine's October 2000 issue, Poitier discussed his marriage and parenting style, admitting his kids "would be unlikely to say that I'm easy" as a dad. As for Shimkus: "She would tell you that I'm a perfectionist to a degree and that I ask of others a certain kind of loyalty to and respect for relationships. My wife would say that, on occasion, I'm a little tough on the children."

He continued at the time, "In what I expect and demand of them in terms of values. My children respect my values, and I can see some of those values in them. That pleases me, because my values are not constricting. They are human values. My kids are quite intelligent — all six of them."

RELATED: Sidney Poitier's Incredible Life and Career in Photos

Sidney Poitier and Joanna Shimkus
Sidney Poitier and Joanna Shimkus

Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty

In the American Masters PBS documentary Sidney Poitier: One Bright Light, Shimkus recalled in a 1998 interview their wedding day, which saw their two daughters as flower girls and actor Harry Belafonte as the groom's best man. When asked about whether navigating an interracial relationship provided issues in their day-to-day lives, she said it wasn't an issue with them.

"I guess we were just destined to be [together]," she said at the time.

Sidney Poitier and Joanna Shimkus
Sidney Poitier and Joanna Shimkus

Mark Davis/Getty Sidney Poitier and Joanna Shimkus in 2015

"I grew up in Canada and I never really had any kind of prejudice — it's unlike America. I just never had those feelings. And we've never had a problem, actually. It could be that we lead a very quiet life. It could be that it's just the way it is, I don't really know. But I never really did see him as a Black man. I mean, I know he is Black, but I just saw him as a man, and he was just a wonderful person. An amazing human being."

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Sidney Poitier and Joanna Shimkus
Sidney Poitier and Joanna Shimkus

Jeff Vespa/WireImage

She also shared what first attracted her to Poitier.

"The thing that attracted me to him the most, I think, is his integrity and his honesty [and] his loyalty to his family. He's just an amazing human being. He's just a good, good, good person," she said, adding, "And he's cute too, yes! And he was especially gorgeous then. He still is too now, but he was very, very attractive then."

When Poitier received the lifetime achievement award at the 2016 BAFTA Awards but was unable to travel to London to accept the award due to health concerns, he was presented his award at his Los Angeles home. In his speech at the time, he acknowledged his loved ones.

"Today my cup runneth over because I am here with my daughter and the future filmmakers of the world in celebration of this wonderful art form," Poitier said. "I have been very lucky. I have tried to be a good human being, a good actor, a good director, a good filmmaker. My wife is with me here. My wife, my children and my friends have been keeping me on my feet. To my family, my life force, I am nothing without you. And all of you, thank you for your warm embrace and this extraordinary moment and memory I shall cherish."

Video: Loretta Devine on working with Sidney Poitier