Summer Lovin'

The marriage of Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward was long, hot and legendary. Ed Cripps gets between the sheets to ask, How did they do it?
Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman in 1958.

The love story of actors Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward is unique in the Hollywood firmament. Married for 50 years until Newman’s death in September 2008, they were also indefatigable collaborators, making 16 films together (many of which Newman directed). Two works that came out last year shed new light on their admirable, complicated relationship. The Last Movie Stars, a six-part HBO Max documentary about the couple, directed by Ethan Hawke and executive-produced by Martin Scorsese, brought to life a treasure trove of interviews conducted by the writer Stewart Stern with Newman, Woodward, and many of the key figures in their lives. These interviews also form the basis of The Extraordinary Life of an Ordinary Man, Newman’s riveting posthumous memoir. Woodward and Newman met in 1953 during the Broadway run of William Inge’s play Picnic, for which both actors were understudies. Joanne thought Paul “looked like he’d been kept on ice. And I hated him”, yet she went home and told her flatmate that he was the man she’d marry. They soon embarked on an affair, even though Newman was still married to Jackie. Before Newman, Woodward was reported to have been engaged to the rakish Gore Vidal (with whom she briefly shared a house in L.A.), but she later claimed she was a beard for the bisexual Gore, who became lifelong friends of Newman and Woodward, picking upon their contrast of styles as people and performers.With Woodward, “everything is instinctive and natural.


June 2023


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