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Joanne Woodward ‘Doesn’t Even Remember’ the Love of Her Life Paul Newman after His Death due to Her Health State

Bettina Dizon
Apr 03, 2022
01:30 P.M.
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Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman's love story is one of Hollywood's most memorable, but sadly, the beloved actress has no recollection of it after her husband of five decades passed away.


Paul Newman became one of the most famous actors of his generation after his Broadway debut in 1953. Similarly, the love of his life, Joanne Woodward, was also in the industry, gracing the screens with productions such as "The Three Faces of Eve" and “Wishes, Winter Dreams."

Through their work, the pair met, fell in love, and eventually tied the knot. Although their union was the beginning of a legendary celebrity marriage, it started as an adulterous affair while "The Hustler" star was still wed to Jacqueline Witte.

(L) Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman during the Governor's Ball at The Beverly Hilton Hotel, Beverly Hills, California. (R) Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward in Paris, 23 August 1989. | Source: Getty Images


The pair went through several triumphs and challenges while together but endured it all together for five decades.

Unfortunately, Joanne no longer remembers her husband or their memories as husband and wife. Here's a look at the couple's relationship and Joanne's life today.

Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward during their wedding at the El Rancho hotel-casino, Las Vegas, Nevada, January 29, 1958. | Source: Getty Images



Before Joanne, Paul was married to aspiring actress Jackie. He was just 24 when they met in a small town where they worked on stage while she was 19. It didn't take long before they tied the knot, causing speculation that Jackie was pregnant. However, they didn't have children within the timeframe.

At that time, Paul loved theater but gave it up to take over the family business and care for his then-pregnant wife. They later welcomed their firstborn son, Scott. Amidst his new life, Paul still wanted to pursue a career in acting, so he gambled all his savings and studied theater at Yale.


They lived humbly while Paul studied, and his wife sought a career in modeling. While chasing his dreams, Jackie became pregnant with their second child. Fortunately, her husband landed minor roles on television and in stage plays. In one of those productions, he met the understudy of the leading lady, Joanne. 

Paul Newman rides the Whip with his first wife Jackie and their son at Rockaway's Playland. | Source: Getty Images



Although Paul received praise for his good looks, it did little to attract Joanne, who didn't think much of his performances. She also knew that he was married with two kids, checking him off the bachelors' list. She even described him as someone that caught her no interest. Joanne said:

“No sweat, big blue eyes, lots of curly hair. I thought, 'Ick. That's disgusting!”

Meanwhile, Paul was instantly drawn to Joanne's beauty and, more so, her personality. He previously described her as a "modern and independent" woman, "whereas I was shy and a bit conservative. It took me a long time to persuade her that I wasn't as dull as I looked."


Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman in a publicity photo for the film, "The Long Hot Summer," 1958. | Source: Getty Images

Paul's rising career took days and nights of work while his wife stayed home to nurse the children. Jackie became disinterested in her craft when motherhood came knocking at her door. A friend of theirs said:


“Her nature is shy and retiring, while Paul's is gregarious. He likes late gatherings of writers and actors, as did Joanne. Paul and Joanne were two highly attractive people with a deep mutual interest and an obvious feeling of companionship.”

However, people rarely saw Jackie in the picture. With more time spent around Joanne, Jackie grew suspicious of her husband, who did nothing more than bond with his colleague. 

A portrait of Paul Newman in a coat and tie, circa 1960. | Source: Getty Images


“Paul and I were good friends before we were lovers,” Joanne said. “We really liked each other. We could talk to each other. We could tell each other anything without fear of ridicule or rejection. There was trust.”

Sadly, Paul passed away due to cancer in 2008 at 83 years old. Not long after, his wife exhibited signs of distress, which their daughters noticed.

Despite undeniable attraction, Paul and Joanne remained friends while he had another child with Jackie in 1954, a daughter named Stephanie.

Joanne Woodward with Paul Newman during the 30th Annual Academy Awards. | Source: Getty Images


Paul knew he was threatening the sanctity of his marriage in the back of his mind, which led him to drink more often. When he began filming for “Somebody Up There Likes Me,” his relationship with Joanne deepened.

Their attraction was known to everyone around them. At one point, a friend said Paul was struggling between staying loyal to his family and being honest with his love for Joanne. Meanwhile, Joanne, who was friends with Jackie, felt like a home-wrecker.

Eventually, Paul told his wife the most heartbreaking confession she could hear – he was in love with another woman. Although in pain, Jackie did not easily give up. 


Joanne Woodward next to her car in Hollywood, November 1957. | Source: Getty Images

“They were so young when they married,” a friend said of the couple. “They just grew up to be two different people.” Paul ended up walking out of his marriage, regardless of the consequence. 


When Paul and Joanne were cast in “The Long, Hot Summer,” they spent months together filming in Louisiana and acted like a couple around everyone. By the end of filming, Joanne found herself carrying Paul's child. 

“I was probably too immature to make a success of my first marriage,” he said while admitting to being “guilty as hell. And I'll carry it with me for the rest of my life.”

Paul Newman in a tuxedo and a bow tie, Venice circa 1963. | Source: Getty Images



After his divorce from Jackie in 1958, Paul married Joanne in Las Vegas. They lived in a New York City apartment and went to Connecticut to unwind on weekends. They raised their three daughters, Nell, Lissy, and Clea, to have a somewhat normal childhood.

Clea would later share that her parents “had an unusual connection and passion for one another that is rare.” She added:

“They respected each other and laughed more than any couple I have ever known.” 

Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman during the premiere of "Cool Hand Luke" on October 31, 1967 in New York, New York. | Source: Getty Images


Meanwhile, Lissy said that “they were inexorably tied to each other by every molecule of their being.” Their strong bond was something that she looked up to. “The good, the bad, and the ugly. They were stuck together.”

Unfortunately, Paul's children from his previous relationship did not feel the same. Specifically, his son, Scott, never forgave the actor for walking out on their family until his death from an accidental overdose in 1978. 

He followed in Paul's footsteps as an actor, known for “The Towering Inferno," "M.D.," "S.W.A.T.,” and “Fraternity Row.” According to a close friend, “Paul felt he should have done more” and could have mended their broken relationship.


Joanne Woodward and Claire Newman during the celebration of Paul Newman's Dream to Benefit the SeriousFun Children's Network at Avery Fisher Hall, Lincoln Center on April 2, 2012 in New York City. | Source: Getty Images

Paul's older daughters, Stephanie and Susan, followed separate career paths. While Stephanie lived a private life, Susan pursued a Hollywood and Broadway career.


Apart from appearing in the movies “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” and “A Wedding,” Susan became a successful producer and filmmaker. Beyond her career, she is known for her philanthropic efforts in alcohol and drug abuse prevention and child welfare.

While it seems that Paul's life turned around when he wed Joanne, his marriage wasn't always a bed of roses. Joanne would be upset with his heavy drinking, especially since she paused her career to care for their children.

Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman during the special screening of "The Woodsman" on January 10, 2004 in New York City. | Source: Getty Images


“Most of their arguments centered around his inability to curb it and the trouble that he would get into because of it,” the friend added, referring to Paul's reported affair with Nancy Bacon. 

Still, Paul tried hard to keep his relationship together and did his best to fix any problems. “He realized the sacrifices Joanne made for their marriage and their family and stepped up,” his friend said. Paul directed and produced many films to help Joanne in her career.


Sadly, Paul passed away due to cancer in 2008 at 83 years old. Not long after, his wife exhibited signs of distress, which their daughters noticed. “The girls saw their mom becoming slightly disoriented, but they chalked it up to her depression after Paul's death,” a source revealed.


It turned out that Joanne had Alzheimer's disease that made her health rapidly deteriorate, and forget fond memories, including those with Paul. The insider said:

“Joanne will occasionally say she used to be married to someone handsome, but that's it. She doesn't even remember the love of her life.”


The illness progressed to the extent that the actress needed someone to care for her. “She barely speaks anymore and hardly ever recognizes her own daughters or grandchildren,” the source added. “It's heartbreaking to see her this way.”

Joanne was treated at Adler Geriatric Assessment Center, using drug trials to combat the illness. However, her condition only worsened and decreased her chance of returning. “She is so far gone that they feel she is reaching her endpoint,” the insider said.


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