Inside Paul Newman & Joanne Woodward’s love story, the couple that managed to stay together for 50 years

Hollywood have seen many golden couples come and go. Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart, Frank Sinatra and Ava Gardner, and Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio are just some.

But when speaking about legendary celebrity couples, you have to mention the late Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, today 92.

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Paul and Joanne wed in 1958 and stayed married until Newman died in 2008 at age 83. Joanne and Paul spent 50 years together, starring in movies, traveling, and raising a family.

But did you know that Woodward wasn’t impressed with her future husband when they first met?

Joanne Woodward Paul Newman
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Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman

Paul Newman is one of the most beloved actors and performers of his generation. Together with Joanne Woodward, they were a timeless golden Hollywood couple.

People might think that Newman was the lone star of the relationship. But actually, Joanne Woodward can look back on a successful career, winning plenty of awards and shining like the biggest and brightest Hollywood stars.

She was highly respected for her convincing and fabulous roles in film, theatre, and television. Joanne distinguished herself from other actresses in 50’s Hollywood, having strong and independent roles instead of the many helpless ones often given to women at the time.

Joanne Woodward was born on Feb. 27, 1930, in Thomasville, Georgia.

She attended Greenville High School in Greenville, South Carolina, and still a teenager, Joanne won several beauty contests.

Joanne Woodward

Her acting career started in high school, with her appearing in several theatrical productions.

She played Laura Wingfield in The Glass Menagerie and would return to Greenville in the ’70s, playing in the same product again but this time as Amanda Wingfield.

Married in Las Vegas

In 1955, 25 years old, Joanne returned to Greenville for the premiere of her debut movie Count Three and Pray.

Following her graduation from High School, Joanne moved to Louisiana, where she majored in drama at Louisiana State University. She later traveled to New York City, where she performed on stage.

Joanne’s decision to go to New York turned out to be a great one. In 1953, she met what would be her future husband, Paul Newman.

At the time, Newman was married to his first wife, Jackie Witte.

Joanne had recently graduated from Louisiana State and was an understudy in the Broadway play Picnic. Newman starred in the show, and soon, there were going to be sparks of love.

Joanne Woodward Paul Newman

Speaking to Today many years ago, Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward talked about the day they first met.

It was a hot summer’s day, with Newman wearing a seersucker suit, not sweating, and looking like an “ice cream ad,” according to Joanne.

”I was hot, sweaty and my hair was all stringy around my neck,” Joanne later said.

She also admitted that she wasn’t interested at first, but Newman was drawn to her. Joanne was an ”extraordinarily pretty girl,” and Newman couldn’t stop thinking about her.

In Marian Edelman Borden’s biography about Newman, the author revealed that Woodard said:


“I hated him on sight, but he was so funny and pretty and neat.”

It would be four years before Newman and Woodward took it to the next level. They were friends from the moment they met, but while starring together in The Long, Hot Summer (1957), it turned into something else.

Wonderful love story

Newman divorced his wife Jackie just after filming The Long, Hot Summer in 1957. The couple had three children together. 

Soon after the separation from Jackie, Paul tied the knot with Joanne on Jan. 29, 1858.

Joanne and Paul wed in Las Vegas and spent their honeymoon in Europe.

Just married, the press couldn’t get enough of the golden Hollywood stars. Journalists followed the two around on their honeymoon, which made them a beloved celebrity couple among the public.

It was the beginning of a happy, charming and wonderful love story.

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Joanne Woodward

Following their six-week honeymoon, Paul and Joanne moved into their 18th-century Connecticut farmhouse.

Speaking to the Daily News in 2001, Joanna explained that the decision to move to the house instead of Los Angeles was crucial for their marriage

“We were never Hollywood people. We just liked it better here. It also probably helps that we always enjoyed each other’s company,” Joanne said.

1958 was also going to be a year to remember as one that made Woodward immortal in Hollywood. She won an Academy Award for Best Actress, starring in The Three Faces of Eve, and received an additional Academy Award nomination for her role in Rachel, Rachel in 1969. Paul Newman was the director of the latter.

Academy Award winner

She was later also nominated for an Academy Award nomination as Best Actress in 1974 for Summer Wishes, Winter Dreams and in 1991 for Mr. & Mrs. Bridge.

Her husband would also move on to win an Academy Award for Best Actor. In 1987, he received it for his role in The Color of Money.

Art Zelin/Getty Images

Woodward also received two Emmy Awards for Outstanding Lead Actress in See How She Runs (1978) and Do You Remember Love (1985). She was nominated an additional five-time.

The Hollywood Walk of Fame is a known landmark to visit in Hollywood, with thousands of actors, filmmakers, and musicians having received a star.

But who was the first one to be dedicated to the historic walkway? Yes, you guessed it right. It was Joanne Woodward who got her star during the official groundbreaking ceremony on Feb. 9, 1960, according to History.

Paul Newman and Joanna Woodward decided to raise their family in Connecticut, far away from the busy lifestyle in Hollywood.

In an interview with Daily Mail, daughter Clea, 55, spoke about her mother,

‘My mother was way ahead of her time,’ she says. ‘She was in the women’s lib before it became a big thing and she was a hands-on mother; when I was a baby she nursed me on set. She’d stop the cameras rolling in the middle of scenes and say, “Sorry, I’ve got to feed the baby.”’

Paul had three children from his first marriage, with son Scott, (born in 1950) and daughters Susan (born 1953) and Stephanie Kendall (born 1954).

In 1975, the family suffered a tragic loss with Scott passing away from a drug overdose after suffering from a motorcycle accident.

Five years later, Paul established the Scott Newman Center. It’s dedicated to help educate children about the dangers of alcohol and drug abuse.

There’s nothing you can say that will repair my guilt about Scott. It will be with me as long as I live,” Paul Newman said following his son’s death, according to The Times.

Joanne Woodward – family

Joanne gave birth to three daughters. Ellinor Teresa (born 1959), Melissa Stewart (born 1961) and Claire Olivia (born 1965).

As a child, Melissa had roles in several TV-series and also appeared in the movie Mr. & Mrs. Bridge (1990), which also starred her parents.

Joanne and Paul continued living a wonderful life together in Connecticut.

Flickr / John Irving

People admired their loving relationship, with actor Liev Schreiber sharing a wonderful story about the two were deeply in love even after 40 years of marriage.

It happened during the time he worked on the movie Twilight (1998), with Joanne coming on set.

“He put his arm around my shoulder and said to me, ‘Will you look at the ass on her.’ That really struck me as an ideal relationship. I love the idea that a guy approaching 80 still loved his wife’s ass,” Schreiber said in an interview with Elle.

Despite growing older, Paul and Joanne never slowed down. She was the artistic director at the Westport Country Playhouse in Connecticut from 2001-2005, and also stared with her husband in the TV series Empire Falls.

Paul passed away

However, in 2008, after 50 years of marriage, the love story ended.

Paul Newman died in 2008 after battling cancer at age 83. The legendary Butch Cassidy actor was honored and hailed throughout the movie business.

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The Newman estate was left to Joanne and various charities following her beloved husband’s death.

Joanne and Paul was one of the real golden couples of Hollywood, with having such a long and happy marriage being pretty rare in showbiz.

The couple sustained their affection for each other with playfulness and became known for their involvement in politics and charities, balancing their work with family.

Daughter speaks out

Also, the couple created the famous salad dressing Newman’s Own, which sends all its contributions to charity.

“They had the love of newlyweds,” family friend Bob Forrester told People about the couple. “When I would fly with him all over the world, the moment the plane landed, Paul would call Joanne and he always said, ‘I love you,’ even after 50 years of marriage. She was his everything. They were soulmates.”

The Newman estate was left to Joanne and various charities following her beloved husband’s death.

The success of their marriage was pretty simple, according to Joanne.

“We could talk to each other, we could tell each other anything without fear of ridicule or rejection. There was trust,” she said, according to Honey Nine.

Speaking with the Daily Mail, daughter Clea talks about her mother Joanne, now 92 years old, and how they resemble each other.

‘I wish I had my mother’s skin,’ she said. ‘I have more wrinkles than she does and she is 86! Her skin is annoying, it is so beautiful. But then she was sun-blocking before sun block existed. I have never known her to not wear a hat in the sun.’

Three years ago, it was announced that Ethan Hawke will direct a documentary about the lives and careers of Joanne and Paul. It has been authorized by the family, Deadline reports.

In a statement, Hawke said he promises a “rare and exclusive look at the careers of both actors and a complex 50-year relationship that ultimately managed to beat incredible odds.”

Joanne Woodward in 2023

As of 2023, Joanna Woodward has retired from acting. The 92-year-old did the voice of Doris in 2013’s Lucky Them, but since then, she has had no acting credits.

The iconic actress has not been seen in public since 2013, and there are media reports of her going through a tough health battle.

According to Closer Magazine, Woodward is battling Alzheimer’s. USA Today reports that Joanne was diagnosed with the disease in 2007, just days before Paul Newman was diagnosed with terminal cancer.

Joanne once again found herself in the spotlight when Ethan Hawke’s intimate six-part docuseries about Woodward and Newman premiered in 2022.

Hopefully, Joanne could enjoy it.

”That’s why the family wanted me to do it now,” Hawke said in 2020 and continued:

”They wanted it to come out while she’s still alive and can see this, to support her”.

According to Closer, Joanne Woodward still lives in the Westport home in Connecticut, where her husband died in 2008 at age 83.

Joanne Woodward and Claire Newman attend a Celebration of Paul Newman’s Dream to benefit Paul Newman’s Association of Hole in the Wall Camps at Avery Fisher Hall, Lincoln Center on April 2, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Gilbert Carrasquillo/FilmMagic)

The love story of Joanna Woodward and Paul Newman sure is special. Were so happy that they got to spend more than 50 years married.A true golden Hollywood couple the world might never see again.

Please, share their story with friends and family.