Hollywood’s Ideal Couple
Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward’s marriage was one for the ages. Both old and new pictures of the two show just how in love they really were, and everyone in America could see it. They were the golden couple that showed up everywhere hand-in-hand, each with a sparkle in their eye for the other. And the fact they stayed together for over five decades just goes to show the world was right about them.
But when the young stars first met in the early 1950s, Newman wasn’t exactly an eligible bachelor. He was already married when he met Woodward, but that didn’t stop him from falling head over heels.
The First Wife
The relationship between Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward started as an affair, much to the dismay of his first wife at the time, Jackie Witte. They had been married since 1950, and the couple already had three children. But when Paul first laid eyes on Joanne he didn't mind throwing his marital vows go straight out of the window.
Reports are that Woodward initially had zero interest in him, but he was enamored with her. He acted on his desire and began a relationship, which would first be an affair, with the young actress. Paul later admitted, “I’m guilty as hell, and I’ll carry it with me forever.”
When Woodward first met Newman, she wasn’t impressed. But as time went on and they got to know each other, she began to develop feelings for him, too. However, both parties knew that there were three children and another wife back at home.
As much as she wanted to be with him, she also didn’t want to come between a family – but that’s exactly what happened. But as fate would have it, Jackie agreed to and signed the divorce papers.
Newman knew from the second he saw Woodward that he wanted to be with her, and eventually, he grew on her, too. But up until they’d come together, the two stars had led such separate lives. Woodward was raised in Georgia, where she’d been given a traditional Southern upbringing, so she was much more conservative than her counterpart.
Newman, on the other hand, was used to partying and living a much racier lifestyle. The two young stars found their balance and seemed to bring out the best in each other.
The Rumor Mill
Even though the entirety of Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward’s relationship was built on adultery, the actor maintained that he stayed true to his second wife. His actions, however, and the accounts of multiple other people all around Tinseltown, say otherwise. Darwin Porter’s bio, "Paul Newman: The Man Behind the Baby Blues", spins a different tale about the kind of life he led.
Porter’s insiders, that contributed to his tell-all book, include playwright William Inge and Geraldine Page. In it, he lays out all accounts that came pouring off of the rumor mill about Newman, including all of the relationships he’d had with different stars while married – both male and female.
Darwin Porter’s biography of Paul Newman was compiled over the course of several years. The writer spoke to some serious insiders that were around Newman quite a bit in those days – including Marlon Brando, who shocked the world with what he had to say about the late actor. According to Brando, Newman had “just as many affairs as the rest of us, and he was just as bisexual as I was.”
The book alleges that the star had extra-marital relationships with big names in the business, like Marilyn Monroe, John Derek and Grace Kelley, and many others. There is, of course, no proof of these alleged relationships; they are simply based on the accounts of others.
Fine Dining Vs. Fast Food
When Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward would appear as a couple after they were married, it was so apparent to everyone just how in love the two young stars were. But that begs the question, where was Jackie Witt left in all of this, once she had been given her divorce? She still had three young children to care for. But fans thought they could find solace in the façade that Newman could never cheat on his new bride.
After all, in one interview where he was asked if he’d ever considered it, he questioned why he’d go after a hamburger when he “had steak at home.” But according to his tell-all bio, Paul Newman basically frequented a steakhouse with a rotating menu of the finest meat on the market.
The Butcher Shop
Porter wasn’t the only one to release a book that revealed the hidden side of Paul Newman. In 2009, Shawn Levy released 'Paul Newman: A Life,' which delves into one of his most notorious affairs. The book describes an 18-month-long relationship between Newman and journalist Nancy Bacon.
People who knew about the affair – and apparently, there were a lot – joked that he may not go out for hamburgers, but he sure went out for bacon. According to the portrayal in Levy’s book, the affair began when he was filming perhaps his biggest film in history: 'Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid'.
Again, nothing we’ve heard about Paul Newman being unfaithful to his wife has ever been confirmed, it is all simply talk from everyone who knew him in the past. But regardless of whether or not it was true, one thing was sure: he left his young wife and three children to pursue a relationship with a Hollywood starlet.
His son, Scott, was born with acting in his blood and decided to pursue a career in the industry himself. But that doesn’t mean he was going to work hand-in-hand with his father on set.
A Troubled Life
Since his childhood, Scott had things pretty rough – rougher than his younger half-siblings, anyways. Once his parents split, he and his two younger sisters would divide their time between mom and dad’s house. Later in life, he tried his hand at acting, and wound up in several films, although he never quite found his footing.
Around that same time, he was drinking pretty heavily. In January of 1978, he passed away from an accidental overdose of alcohol mixed with pain killers that he’d received for pain in his ribs, and valium he’d gotten from his psychologist.
Riddled with Guilt
When the news of his son’s death got to Paul, he was absolutely devastated. But he also reported that the call didn’t come as a shock to him. In one interview, he said that he’d been expecting that call for nearly a decade. Before his own death, the actor expressed just how much he felt the weight of all of it in multiple interviews.
Since he felt helpless to get his son out of that dark place before his passing, he decided to do something to help future generations in his honor. He pledged over $1 million to assist in the opening of the Scott Newman Center.
Newman’s generous donation led to the opening of the Scott Newman Center in 1980. The premise of the organization was to help educate young people about the dangers of drug use. The primary focus of the center was their Rowdy Ridge Camp, which was a summer camp program for troubled youth.
The camp was offered free of charge, due to the families utilizing it being at or below the poverty level. It was able to run off of donations for 30 years, but sadly, it closed its doors in 2013, since it was no longer able to sustain itself.
Newman may have been one of the most famous faces on the planet in the ’60s and ’70s, but that didn’t mean he always lived in the fast lane. He much preferred to hang out with his family than to go out on the town all the time. And that’s what he did, for the most part.
He would stay home with the family at their large, yet modest, colonial-style house in Connecticut. But his children from the first marriage didn’t get quite so lucky with the ideal family life that he had with Joanne and their daughters, and because of it, his relationship with them was pretty tumultuous.
Through Thick and Thin
Things weren’t always smooth between the Newmans. There were times when things got rocky, but the two remained strong through everything and stuck it out until the end. One museum attendant in Arizona recalled seeing them sitting together outside one evening and noted that they looked “so in love” that it radiated from their presence.
Even though Paul had his wandering ways, Joanne still loved him and saw the best in him. And they made things work for five decades.
Paul was always a big philanthropist, which became especially evident when he launched Newman’s Own in 1982. The company started as one bottle of salad dressing, but from the very beginning, Paul made it clear that he wanted all of the profits to be used for charity.
As of this year, they’ve given more than $550 million to different charities. Of course, they pay all of their typical expenses first and then donate the rest.
Paul’s big heart not only led him to the creation of a successful salad dressing company for charity, but he devoted a lot of his time to helping others. He was helping people long before he became rich and famous. In fact, he almost died for it while serving with the military in WWII.
Initially, he’d signed up to become a fighter pilot. However, when he showed up for training and they started testing him, tests would reveal that Newman was hiding a secret. One that would ultimately prevent him from getting the post he wanted.
Relationships weren’t the only thing that Paul kept hidden. When he went into the military, his hopes of becoming a fighter pilot were dashed when vision tests showed something off with his results. As it turns out, the star was born colorblind but didn’t like to talk about it much.
He thought that if he revealed his disability, others may treat him differently. With the new information available to them, officers chose to place him elsewhere within the Navy.
Newman’s color-blindness may have prevented him from getting to fly the fighter jets with the military, but that wasn’t going to stop him from serving his country. Instead, he ended up working as an aerial radio operator and rear-seat gunner inside torpedo bombers. He almost didn’t walk away from the experience, either.
He was almost killed alongside 350 sailors who lost their lives when a carrier he was on was hit by two kamikazes. When he was discharged after his service, he held the rank of Petty Officer 3rd Class and had been decorated with Combat Aircrew Wings and a Combat Action Ribbon.
Even though Newman enjoyed the quiet, humble life at home with his family, that didn’t mean he still didn’t chase thrills every once in a while. After all, someone who joins the military and then jumps into a fast life of fame can’t exactly just go from all of that to staying home all the time.
In the early ’70s, after he’d been introduced to racing cars through his role as the pro driver, Frank Capua, in the film 'Winning', he decided to take it up in real life, too. The singer got his start in the world of racing at age 46, in a Datsun 510. But no one knew just how serious he was about the whole thing until it started to evolve into so much more than just a hobby.
Moving on Up
What began as Newman taking an interest in something new, quickly became a huge part of his life. Some say that his driving career even became as important to him, if not more than, his acting career. He drove a ton of amazing race cars throughout said career, including a 79’ 280 ZX and an 89’ custom Camaro.
After he started to rack up wins, everyone realized just how serious he was about racing. He loved it so much that he kept driving professionally up until a month before he passed away, at age 83.
Helping Youth in Need
Sometimes you wonder if the donations that some celebrities make are more about how much they care about a specific cause, or about how it makes them look to the public. But in Paul Newman’s case, there was no doubt in anyone’s mind that his philanthropic work was a result of how much he truly desired to help others.
It was evident in everything he did for multiple charities around the world. Because of Newman, nearly $600 million has gone to organizations that help those who need it most. And even after his death, his legacy continues with the help of his children.
The Absolute Worst
Paul may have worked his way up through the ranks of Hollywood and become one of the most successful actors of his time, but he probably wasn’t so convinced after his first film. After he bared it all in a toga on the 1954 Warner Bros religious epic film, 'The Silver Chalice', he had to go to extreme measures to protect his image. The first step? He took out an ad in the newspaper and apologized to the world for committing to the movie in the first place.
Newman famously called the flick the “worst film of the 1950s,” although there were those that disagreed with him. Luckily, he was able to turn things around and make everyone forget about his first venture.
The Big Apple
Even though he’d apologized for the entire debacle with his controversial first film, he knew he had to do something to show the world what he was really about. He made his way out to New York City to try his hand at acting on stage, on Broadway. His first play was 'Picnic', in 1953, which touched the lives of many young people of the time.
Then, a couple of years later, in 1955, he acted in 'Desperate Hours', which won the Tony Award for Best Play. After everyone saw his incredible acting in such a powerful and compelling story, he started to build his loyal fan base.
All of the Awards
Paul Newman has an extensive list of awards and nominations. Over five decades, he starred in some of the most prolific movies ever made. He’s been nominated for several Emmys, Golden Globes, Tonys, and Oscars, and he’s won several more.
In 85’, he won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his work in 'The Color of Money.' In more recent years, he won the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor in 2005’s TV show, 'Empire Falls.' And his talent on stage wasn’t the only thing that earned him a Golden Globe.
One for the Ladies
Though he’d already been playing some major roles and earning himself loads of fans through each new production, nothing could have prepared him for what would happen in 1967. He starred in the film 'Cool Hand Luke,' as Lucas Jackson, a rough and tumble prisoner who deals with physical and mental abuse at the hands of guards.
The film, which was based on a novel by Donne Pearce, and directed by Stuart Rosenberg, has a 100% fresh tomatoes score on Rotten Tomatoes and was the first to depict him in this sort of macho, shirtless image. Because of it, he found himself turning women away on the streets.
A Huge Star
By the early 1960s, Paul Newman was one of the most sought-after actors in Hollywood. Every major director wanted him to star in their films and every woman in America wanted to marry him. His “baby blues” became his signature feature, and women would rush up to him on the street to meet him.
He took to wearing sunglasses, but apparently, it only caused them to be almost rude about getting him to take them off. The experience of it all made him implement his own rule, which would (hopefully) prevent the public from invading his personal space whenever they saw him out in his day-to-day life.
In 1982, Newman and his friend, A.E Hotchner, launched what would become an enormously popular food product company in the United States. The men each put up $20,000 that they’d collected from family, friends, and other investors, and bottled up the first salad dressing of the Newman’s Own line. Of course, by putting his name behind the brand, it skyrocketed into success.
A.E Hotchner is an author and playwright who, at the age of 102, lives in Connecticut. Today, the brand is being run by an executive named Bob Forrester, who reported he is running things “in line with how Paul would have wanted.”
From Beyond the Grave
In 2008, Paul Newman passed away in bed, next to his wife, Joanne. The cancer he’d been battling had won the fight. The world was in mourning over the loss of such a bright star and someone who’d done so much for the entertainment industry.
Little did they know that they would get to hear one final project from Newman after he’d passed on. In 2017, the Pixar film 'Cars 3' was released, featuring the late actor’s voice as Doc Hudson. The studio had kept the recordings that he’d done in 2006 and added them to the newer film.
Newman was one of many celebrities during the late ’60s and early ’70s that spoke out against the war in Vietnam. And he didn’t stop at just speaking out, he went out and actively campaigned for Eugene McCarthy’s democratic election in 1968, and later supported George McGovern, in 1972.
While many could see the good behind his actions and stand behind him for what he was trying to do, he was also making others very, very angry. And, since he was in such a position of power himself, you can imagine the other powerful people he was upsetting with his anti-war activism – the people who stood to make a lot of money from it.
Making Enemies in High Places
While most working-class Americans absolutely adored Paul Newman, for both his on and off-screen personas, not everyone fell for the charm. In fact, he actually found himself squaring off with President Nixon. Nixon had an entire “enemies list” that he kept of people who he felt stood in his way, and the actor was pretty high up on it.
So, what did Newman do once he learned of his place on this list? Apparently, he thought that it was hilarious and was proud to have stirred the political pot so much to have earned a spot with the other 19 names on Nixon’s paper.
Marching with Martin Luther King
Celebrities have always had an influential voice when it comes to activism. After all, the bigger the fan base, the more people they have who are likely to agree with their opinions simply because of who’s expressing them. Things were no different in the early ’60s, when Newman, along with other major players in Hollywood like Marlon Brando, marched for civil rights alongside Martin Luther King.
All of the A-listers hopped on a plane and flew to Washington to be a part of the movement. Newman was anything but afraid to go against the grain and stand up for what he knew was right.
Deeper Than Looks
Newman’s signature “baby blues” earned him almost as much recognition as his acting. He found it hard to escape the nickname and everyone who hounded him to “show me the baby blues!” But no matter how hard he tried, it made no difference.
His eyes really were a wonderful shade of blue – or, multiple shades of blue, since they changed from steely to sparkly and varied in lightness and darkness. At one point, he joked that his career “would be shot” if his eyes turned brown.
Newman was a heavy smoker in his younger years, which may have contributed in large part to his lung cancer diagnosis later in life. He had quit smoking in his 50s, once it stopped being seen as glamorous and started being viewed for what it really is: dangerous.
No one is entirely sure when the actor was first diagnosed, since he was a very private man. But in 2008, he revealed to the world that he was dying from the disease. He had been working in entertainment up until just a few months before his passing and had last raced a car less than a month before.
Being With Family
At the time of his passing, Newman was 83 years old and living at his home in Connecticut with Joanne. He knew that the end was coming and wanted to be surrounded by the people he loved when it happened. He had given up acting the year before, though he was still working on a stage production in the state that he was directing.
Unfortunately, the illness caused him to cut it short. His friend and partner in Newman’s Own, A.E Hotchner, later revealed that the actor had been sick for about a year and a half before going public.
Paul Newman may not be here physically to grace the world with his presence – but he still is, in a way. The movies, music, plays, products, and humans that he’s created continue to live on and improve the universe a little bit more each day. Anytime any of his fans are feeling down, they will forever be able to pull up a recording of one of his best movies and relive those moments, again and again.
The actor was there to ring in an era, he stood proudly against injustice in the government and he used his voice and his influence to create good in the world. And to this day, his legacy continues.
Newman may have been one of the brightest stars in Hollywood, but most fans knew better than to approach him for an autograph. He tried his best to avoid being hounded by crowds when he was out and about – sometimes, to no avail. Eventually, he tried some more extreme measures, like wearing a mustache. But as the actor said, someone noticed almost immediately and pointed, saying, “it’s Paul Newman in a mustache!”
When that didn’t work, he turned to his final resort; he put his foot down and said that he does not give autographs, period. He wasn’t opposed to the occasional picture, however.
The Heat Behind the Scenes
1958 was a big year for both Newman and Joanne Woodward. The two got married at the beginning of the year in January, to kick things off. A couple of months later, Woodward won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her work on 'Three Faces of Eve.'
But then, in April, 'The Long, Hot Summer,' starring the newly married actors as an on-screen couple, hit theaters and revealed the sizzling chemistry between the two to the world. Newman went on to earn the award for Best Actor at the Cannes Film Festival for his work in the movie.
Growing Up in the Midwest
Before the steely-blue-eyed actor was one of the most wanted men in America, he lived a life that was anything but glamorous. Newman grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, and had a pretty comfortable childhood as the son of a Jewish businessman who owned a local sporting goods shop.
He took after his mother in the sense that she had a creative side, and started getting into acting when he was in elementary school. His love for acting continued throughout high school, but he hit a few roadblocks around the time he was in college.
Expelled from College
Hollywood’s golden boy wasn’t always so innocent. He had his rebellious youth, like a lot of people, only his led to some pretty big life changes. Before most of the world knew him, Paul actually attended Ohio State University – for a few weeks, anyways.
The affluent young man showed promise to the school and was even in a fraternity. But after some wild partying, he ended up damaging the University President’s car with a keg. Needless to say, he wasn’t amused, and Newman was expelled from school. Luckily, it didn’t take him long to get back on track to success.
Still unsure of what he wanted to do with his life in those days, Paul took a job running his dad’s sports shop, before he ended up in the military. He then returned to school, but not as a Bobcat, anymore. This time, he enrolled at Kenyon College, with his admissions essay revealing that his life’s plans at that point were very different than how it all worked out for him.
In it, he wrote that, after he graduated, he planned to take a post-graduate business course and follow in his father’s footsteps of owning a successful retail store. It’s lucky for him, and his fans, that things didn’t go according to plan.
Another interesting fact about Newman is that he originally had his sights set on a career in football. He started playing football in high school and continued in college before being enlisted in the U.S. Navy Air Corps. Once Newman returned home from his service he resumed college on a football scholarship at Kenyon College in Ohio.
Soon, however, Newman was caught in a fight and injured which led him to change his major to theater. This followed with him going to Yale School of Drama before heading off to be a full-time actor in New York.
Paul Newman and Marlon Brando
Paul Newman and Marlon Brando were both exceptionally handsome actors enjoying their newfound fame. Early in their respective careers, Newman was often confused for Marlon and people approached him for an autograph.
Instead of correcting them, Paul would eagerly oblige their request for an autograph by signing, “Best Wishes, Marlon Brando.”
One Generous Fellow
While making the film 'Twilight' in 1998 with Gene Hackman and Susan Sarandon, Newman was dismayed when he found out that as male actors, both he and Hackman were earning considerably more than their female co-star Sarandon, despite all three receiving equal airtime.
This interesting tidbit only came to light when Sarandon mentioned in an interview in 2018 how Newman offered a portion of his own salary to her.
Almost Part of the Rat Pack
Many people don't know this but one of Paul Newman's lesser-known talents was his musical ability. Just like some of his acting peers (Clint Eastwood, for example), Newman was also an accomplished jazz and blues pianist.
It's alleged that Newman performed alongside the likes of Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr.
Playing Piano Onscreen
If anyone wanted evidence of Newman’s musical ability, look no further than the film 'Road to Perdition.' In the movie, Newman and his co-star Tom Hanks perform a piano piece together.
Oftentimes actors get stunt doubles to do this but in this case, the two of them did all their own playing in the scene.
After a successful career that spanned five decades, and earned Newman numerous awards, he was finally given his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1994.
If anyone wants to find it they need only to visit 7060 Hollywood Boulevard.
Sometimes You Need to Say No
Paul Newman has starred in over 60 films throughout his career, and when he wasn't acting he was also working as a producer and director. But for all the films that Paul Newman starred in, he also turned down a few.
Some of the roles he turned down over the course of his career were Quint in 'Jaws,' Dirty Harry in 'Dirty Harry,' and Judah Ben-Hur in 'Ben-Hur.'
All His Accolades
During his lifetime, Newman received many awards and was nominated for ten Academy Awards. His first nomination came in 1958 for his performance in 'Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.'
His last nomination arrived nearly five decades later when Newman was nominated for his performance in the 2002 historical movie 'Road to Perdition,' which was also the last time he was physically featured in a film.
Fire ‘em Up!
Not a fan of formality, Newman had a rather interesting take when it came to celebrating his 75th birthday. As he insisted he no longer needed to care about dressing up anymore, Newman decided to burn his tuxedo.
Actually, we’d say that's quite fair for a man of such stature.
He Inspired the 'Green Lantern'
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Paul Newman’s incredibly good looks inspired the creation of a DC superhero.
When the Green Lantern was reintroduced in the late 195os, his new and improved appearance was apparently illustrated as a tribute to Newman who was then in his prime at 34 years old.
Too Many Eggs
In one of Newman’s classic films, 'Cool Hand Luke,' Newman’s character devours an astonishing amount of hard-boiled eggs in one scene.
Over two hundred eggs were prepared for the scene, which the crew ate once it was all done. Allegedly, Newman had to eat eight eggs, and as soon as the director exclaimed “cut,” he promptly threw up into the nearest garbage can!
Aside from all of Newman's award nominations throughout his lifetime, he was honored with two particular awards by the Academy that were rather special.
In 1986, Newman was granted an Honorary Award for his “many and memorable and compelling screen performances” as well as his “personal integrity.” Almost twenty years later, in 1994, he received the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award.
One of Two
Speaking of awards, Newman is one of just two people in showbiz history to ever win an Oscar for acting, an Honorary Oscar, and the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award.
This all just proves that Newman is as much a hero offscreen as he is on it. The only other person to get that trifecta was Frank Sinatra.
The Voice of a Car
The last film that Newman was featured in was Pixar’s 'Cars.' Lending his voice to the character Doc Hudson, Newman passed away two years after 'Cars' was released.
11 years later, Newman featured again in the same role in 'Cars 3,' despite having been deceased for the last nine years. This was due to the studio making use of audio recordings that Newman made before but was never used in the first film.
Paul Newman worked in the same circles as his contemporary, Robert Redford and soon the two actors became close friends. The two men worked alongside each other in several films and remained in contact throughout their lives.
In a tragic coincidence, the two stars both had sons named Scott who predeceased them.