Joanne Woodward: 'Three Faces Of Eve' And Mrs. Paul Newman, Then And Now
Joanne Woodward wearing an outfit by Travilla with a straw hat by Yorn, circa 1965. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Joanne Woodward, winner of an Oscar for The Three Faces Of Eve (1957), has nearly 80 movie and TV credits to her name, and by any account has had a stellar career pursuing her true love -- acting. She wanted to be a movie star from a young age, and made that dream a reality with acclaimed performances in not only Eve, but The Long, Hot Summer (1958), The Sound And The Fury (1959), and From The Terrace (1960), all released by the time she'd turned 30. She is, of course, famous for another love of her life: Paul Newman, her husband of 50 years and a frequent co-star.
For the famous, sometimes a singular relationship can overshadow the other notable aspects of their lives. Even if the others include four Academy Award nominations. For Joanne Woodward, that was precisely the case; although it’s highly unlikely that you’ll ever hear her complain. Woodward enjoyed an incredibly fruitful career that included an Oscar, three primetime Emmys, and three Golden Globe Awards. She also mothered three successful daughters.
Nevertheless, most people know her as the wife of acting legend Paul Newman. Naturally, it’s difficult to eclipse a headlining Hollywood marriage that lasted 50 years. After all, most Tinsel town couples don’t last the length of feature films. Here’s to Hollywood's original “golden couple."
It Was Not Love At First Sight
For the much-envied Hollywood power duo, the beginning of their relationship did not mirror the serendipitous scripts of their profession. They met in 1953, on the Broadway play “Picnic,” which happened to be Newman’s debut. Woodward, 22 at the time, was working as an understudy and did not fall head over heels for the matinee idol. As she remembered, Newman looked “like an ice cream soda ad," which she found “disgusting”, considering him “just a pretty face."
Newman, on the other hand found, himself rather smitten with the young actress. “She was modern and independent, whereas I was shy and a bit conservative.” However, Newman was happily married with kids to Jackie Witte. Still, the two actors remained friends until four years later, when they worked together on, ironically, The Long, Hot Summer.
There Was No Denying Chemistry
As much as Newman loathed leaving his family, he couldn’t deny his heavenly connection with Woodward. In his book Paul Newman: A Life, he admitted to feeling "guilty as hell" and acknowledged that “I'll carry it with me for the rest of my life." Nevertheless, Newman divorced Witte and married Woodward in January 1958 in Las Vegas. While their marriage wasn't perfect -- whose marriage is? -- many who witnessed them together described their union as the most healthy and beautiful they'd ever seen.
Author Carol Joynt once wrote, “"Joanne Woodward sat on the ground with her back against the trunk of a big tree, her legs stretched out in front. In her lap rested the head of Paul Newman, who occasionally reached up to touch her face and hair as he savored the music. It's possible I gaped. To this day it's the most romantic thing I ever witnessed."
The Couple That Works Together Stays Together
The paragon couple starred in films together two more times. In ‘61 they made Paris Blue and nearly 30 years later, they portrayed their golden chemistry in Mr. and Mrs. Bridge. Newman also directed Woodward in Rachel, Rachel, which earned Woodward her second Academy Award nomination.
Woodward won her gold statuette for her first major starring role, in The Three Faces of Eve. It took Newman almost 30 years to match his wife’s feat, but he eventually got an Oscar of his own for The Color of Money.
Woodward was nominated for her first Emmy Award in 1977, for Sibyl, though she lost out to her co-star Sally Field. She was again nominated in 1978, this time for See How She Runs, and won. She won again in 1985, for Do You Remember Love?, and completed her Emmy trifecta with a shared win for "Broadway's Dreamers: The Legacy of the Group Theatre," an episode of the PBS series American Masters.
The Key To Marriage
In Hollywood, relationships tend to last as long as milk in the sun. Woodward and Newman’s idyllic matrimony lasted until his passing in 2008. “King Cool” once famously said, "People stay married because they want to, not because the doors are locked. I have steak at home. Why should I go out for a hamburger?"
According to Woodward, Newman’s famous good looks weren’t what kept them together. "He's very good looking and very sexy and all of those things, but all of that goes out the window and what is finally left is, if you can make somebody laugh. And he sure does keep me laughing." Whether it was Newman’s charity organization, Newman's Own Foundation donating $485 million to date, or his late in life racing career, the loving couple did everything together.
Apparently, that deep-seated love maintained until the very end. According to one account, “'The nicest guy was Paul Newman. He asked me about myself, but also he had his wife [Joanne Woodward] in the back seat, and this guy was like 80 and he was making out with his wife. They were just PDA and they were giggling and his arm was around her and he's kissing her.'"
Tags: Joanne Woodward | Ladies | Paul Newman | Then And Now
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