Sidney Poitier, who had been married to Joanna Shimkus for 45 years, died on Thursday at the age of 94.
But, before finding true love, the first black man to win an Academy Award for Best Actor was involved in a stormy romance with actress Diahann Carroll that spanned much of the 1960s.
When they were both casts in the movie musical “Porgy & Bess,” they first saw each other in 1959.
Poitier was married to Juanita Hardy at the time, and they had four kids together. Carroll, who was 24 at the time, was married to music promoter Monte Kay.
Regardless of their married situations, the stars were soon smitten by one another and began a passionate romance.
Even when Carroll gave birth to her sole child, Suzanne, in 1960, the intense relationship persisted.
In 1961, the daring pair starred in a second film, “Paris Blues,” which was released.
They were also photographed together at the 1964 Academy Awards, where Poitier, who was still married at the time, won Best Actor for his portrayal in “Lilies of the Field.”
Carroll said in her explosive 2008 memoir, “The Legs Are the Last To Go,” that Poitier promised her in 1963 that he would leave his wife for her. He allegedly persuaded her to obtain a divorce as well so that they could be publicly together.
Carroll followed her word and divorced her husband, preparing to move into a ten-room apartment on ritzy Riverside Drive that Poitier had bought for.
Poitier gave her a flashy ring, but she did not indicate it was a proposal, according to the actress, who went on to feature in the trailblazing sitcom “Julia” and was the first black woman to win a Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical for “No Strings.”
However, he immediately called her to tell her that he was having second thoughts about their relationship and that he would not abandon his wife.
In 1961’s “Paris Blues,” the two are seen alongside Paul Newman.
“He changed the locks on the Riverside Drive apartment, so I couldn’t go in.” “Then he made me write him a check to cover the cost of his purchase and decoration,” Carroll said in her memoir. “I was obedient and needy, so I did what I was told.”
In 1965, Poitier and his wife Juanita Hardy divorced, but the Hollywood heartthrob allegedly told Carroll that he did not want to plunge into another marriage right afterward.
The news drove the beauty to start dating other men, which irritated Poitier.
“Sidney called me at my hotel,” she writes in her memoir. He cried, ‘You bitch, whore, tramp!’ ‘I know he just got out of your bed,’ I say. I’m not going to let you hang out with other guys. ‘You are my property!’
Despite their turbulent relationship ending, the two became firm friends decades later.
“Sidney and I are now buddies,” Carroll said in her memoir, referring to their appearances together at different public occasions. As you get older, forgiveness and possibly a lowering of standards come naturally.”
“I’m a terrible romantic, really terribly so,” she told NPR in 2008. My romanticism is immature. It will not be able to keep a relationship going. “I’m aware of that now.”
Carroll died at the age of 84 in 2019.