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Paul Newman Said He Was 'Creature' of Joanne Woodward's Invention — She Can't Remember Him Due to Alzheimer's

Junie Sihlangu
Jul 12, 2022
03:30 P.M.
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Paul Newman credited his wife, Joanne Woodward, for the man he became, but when he died, things changed. The actress later struggled with a debilitating disease that left her with no solid memory of him.

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In the book "Paul Newman: A Life," the actor met his future wife, Joanne Woodward, while married to another woman, Jackie Witte. The book claimed Paul Newman felt trapped in his marriage as he struggled with the tensions they were experiencing.

The star's wife lost interest in acting and the world in general when she had Paul's children. Witte was described as retiring and shy while her husband's personality blossomed, and he became gregarious when surrounded by the right people.

Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, in February 1958. | Source: Getty Images

Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, in February 1958. | Source: Getty Images

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The star's personality shined when he related to people with the same interests. Paul enjoyed going out late to gatherings with fellow actors and writers, just as Woodward did.

However, Witte was hardly seen out in public. When he met Woodward, the pair clicked because they were both very attractive with mutual interests and an "obvious feeling of companionship."

Paul Newman riding the Whip with his Jackie Witte and their son on August 7, 1955. | Source: Getty Images

Paul Newman riding the Whip with his Jackie Witte and their son on August 7, 1955. | Source: Getty Images

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The book about the actress, "Joanne Woodward: Her Life and Career," revealed that she also suffered in her relationship with Paul. Their bond was described as "more of an ordeal than a courtship."

Woodward was allegedly friendly with Paul's wife and didn't want to become a homewrecker. The actor and his welcomed a third addition to their family named Stephanie in 1955.

Paul Newman posing for a black and white photo, circa 1960. | Source: Getty Images

Paul Newman posing for a black and white photo, circa 1960. | Source: Getty Images

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The other reason Woodward wasn't keen on helping to break the Newman marriage was that she was concerned about the well-being of the couple's children. She knew what it felt like to come from a broken family.

The actress and Paul decided to end their relationship, with the actor returning to New York to be with his family. Eventually, in 1956, Witte finally agreed to separate from her husband, and he moved on quickly.

Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward on "Eleanor Roosevelt's Diamond Jubilee Plus One" with an air date of October 7, 1960. | Source: Getty Images

Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward on "Eleanor Roosevelt's Diamond Jubilee Plus One" with an air date of October 7, 1960. | Source: Getty Images

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Paul and Woodward started staying together in a Malibu house with Gore Vidal and his longtime partner, Howard Austen. The actress once told the media that she and Paul were set to marry.

However, Witte's ex-husband felt guilty for leaving his first marriage and the family they'd built. The guilt stayed with him for the rest of his life, but if he hadn't had Woodward, Paul would've been nowhere and nothing.

Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman during their wedding on January 29, 1958, in Las Vegas, Nevada. | Source: Getty Images

Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman during their wedding on January 29, 1958, in Las Vegas, Nevada. | Source: Getty Images

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While making "Playhouse 90, Paul and his girlfriend decided to tie the knot, and he was 33 and Woodward 27 when they married. Being able to marry Woodward left Paul feeling intoxicated as he was able to release the secrecy and anxieties of his life.

He was now able to walk around freely as Woodward's husband. Sadly, their marriage began on a tragic note when Paul's new wife started experiencing stomach pains at home, only to discover she was having a miscarriage.

She was taken to St. George's Hospital, where she lost her child and stayed to recover. After she'd healed enough, the actress was put on a plane and flown home.

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JOANNE SHAPED PAUL'S LIFE AND HOW THEIR ROLES CHANGED

Paul Newman posing for a portrait in 1950. | Source: Getty Images

Paul Newman posing for a portrait in 1950. | Source: Getty Images

In Paul's book, "The Extraordinary Life of an Ordinary Man: A Memoir," the star openly spoke about his difficult childhood. He struggled with insecurities as a teenager and had failed relationships with women earlier on.

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Woodward's husband also discussed their love, his dependence on her, and how she shaped him emotionally, intellectually, and sexually. In a July 2022 documentary about the couple, Paul was heard stating this about his wife:

“I’m simply a creature of her invention.”

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At the time, Woodward was a Hollywood star whom Photoplay magazine named the year's "outstanding new personalities." In February 1958, she was nominated for an Academy Award for her role in "The Three Faces of Eve."

When the actress married Paul, she'd just won an Oscar Award. Then their lives' trajectory changed, and Woodward took on the role of stepmother to her husband's three children with Witte.

Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward with her Oscar statuette during the Governor's Ball, an Academy Awards party in Beverly Hills, California, in 1958. | Source: Getty Images

Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward with her Oscar statuette during the Governor's Ball, an Academy Awards party in Beverly Hills, California, in 1958. | Source: Getty Images

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She and the actor also had three children of their own over the years, leaving her with parental duty for six children! At the same time, Paul carried on with his work and failed to see his family as much as he would've liked.

The tables were turned with the actor becoming an A-list star with millions of fans. He couldn't walk down the street or visit a restaurant without being recognized and harassed by fans who noticed him wearing dark sunglasses or growing a beard!

HOW NEWMAN CHEATED ON HIS WIFE

Paul Newman posing for a photo, circa 1960. | Source: Getty Images

Paul Newman posing for a photo, circa 1960. | Source: Getty Images

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When Paul reached his early 40s, he was in great shape while starring in movies like "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" and "Cool Hand Luke." Almost every day, he rode a bike, swam, and ran to stay fit.

She [Joanne Woodward] started showing signs of distress and disorientation after Paul [Newman] died but her children that she was just depressed.

Even though he drank a lot, he still watched his diet and hardly had any fat. Paul, who lost his son Scott, wasn't only well-built and youthful-looking but also had self-awareness and wisdom, which made him quite the catch.

Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman at Limerock Auto Race on July 5, 1980, in Limerock, Connecticut. | Source: Getty Images

Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman at Limerock Auto Race on July 5, 1980, in Limerock, Connecticut. | Source: Getty Images

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Woodward laughed off the fact that her husband had become a sex symbol. She noted how he found her sexy and deserving of the status and didn't worry about women hitting on him because she knew what he thought, and when Paul was questioned about his fidelity, he said:

"I have steak at home, so why would I go for a hamburger."

The actor adored his wife and even felt indebted to her. Despite everything, in 1968, Paul started an affair with Nancy Bacon, with her revealing details about their secret meetings, but the Newman marriage stayed strong.

ATONING FOR HIS ACTIONS BEFORE HIS DEATH

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Clea, Susan, and Nell Newman at An Evening of Serious Fun Celebrating The Legacy of Paul Newman on May 14, 2015, in Hollywood, California. | Source: Getty Images

Clea, Susan, and Nell Newman at An Evening of Serious Fun Celebrating The Legacy of Paul Newman on May 14, 2015, in Hollywood, California. | Source: Getty Images

Before Paul passed on, he wanted his daughters to know the truth about the man he was and why he behaved the way he did. After he died in 2008, his daughter Melissa recalled how natural her parent's chemistry was, stating:

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"They were inexorably tied to each other by every molecule of their being. The good, the bad, and the ugly. They were stuck together."

JOANNE'S LACK OF RECOLLECTION OF HER HUSBAND

Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman at the performance of "Stones In His Pockets" on September 4, 2001, in New York City. | Source: Getty Images

Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman at the performance of "Stones In His Pockets" on September 4, 2001, in New York City. | Source: Getty Images

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In 2015, Woodward was 85 and suffering from Alzheimer's disease. Sadly, she couldn't recall all the beautiful memories she created with Paul, who died at age 83 from cancer.

A family insider claimed the actress's health was "deteriorating rapidly." The source said Woodward occasionally recalled that she was once married to someone handsome but couldn't remember who he was.

She started showing signs of distress and disorientation after Paul died, but her children thought she was just depressed. However, she needed constant care and barely spoke, while she couldn't recognize her children or grandchildren.

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