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Paul Newman & Joanne Woodward Protectively Raised Their Kids in Home of 40 Years — He Wanted to Die Here

Esther NJeri
Jul 27, 2022
09:40 A.M.
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Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward met under unsavory circumstances, yet their marriage became one of the longest-lasting Hollywood unions. They successfully raised their three children together in their 1900-era carriage home in Connecticut, where the actor wanted to take his final breath.

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When they first met, Newman, then 28, was only breaking into the acting scenes and had made his Broadway debut in the play "Picnic," in which Woodward was an understudy. During filming, Woodward got so hot in her heels and gloves that she sought relief in the agent's office, where she met Newman.

Woodward thought Newman was just a pretty face and was not very impressed with him. Things were, however, different for Newman, who was impressed with the blonde beauty and thought of her as independent and modern.

American actor Joanne Woodward holds her Oscar statuette while sitting next to husband, American actor Paul Newman in 1958 | Source: Getty Images

American actor Joanne Woodward holds her Oscar statuette while sitting next to husband, American actor Paul Newman in 1958 | Source: Getty Images

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Because of his shy and conservative nature, it took Newman a while to convince Woodward that he was an interesting person. There was also another "problem." Newman was still married to his first wife, Jackie Witte, and had three children with her.

Woodward did not want to break a marriage, so the two became friends and stayed in touch for years. As fate would have it, the pair reconnected in 1957 during the filming of "The Long, Hot Summer," and their chemistry was off the hook, both on and off-screen.

Initially, Witte denied Newman a divorce but eventually conceded. Shortly after his divorce, Newman married Woodward in Las Vegas on January 29, 1958. They went for their honeymoon to Connaught Hotel in London.

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 American actors Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman holding a knife together as they prepare to cut into their wedding cake, Las Vegas, Nevada in 1958 | Source: Getty Images

American actors Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman holding a knife together as they prepare to cut into their wedding cake, Las Vegas, Nevada in 1958 | Source: Getty Images

The following year, the lovebirds welcomed their first child together, daughter Nell Newman, followed by daughter Lissy Newman in 1961 and Clea Newman in 1965.

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After the birth of their second child, Newman and Woodward decided they wanted to raise their babies in a quiet environment, away from the spotlight, so they bought a home in Connecticut.

A TOUR AROUND THE NOOK HOUSE

Actor Paul Newman shows his Westport, Connecticut, home, 11 August 2004 | Source: Getty Images

Actor Paul Newman shows his Westport, Connecticut, home, 11 August 2004 | Source: Getty Images

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When she first heard of the house, Woodward thought it fitted the description of a Nook House. It was a converted barn with ample open areas and stood on 2.5 acres of land that ended on a bluff over the slender Aspetuck River. The property stood in a wooded portion of Westport, Connecticut.

The property, rich with Colonial and contemporary history, was owned by the Coley family for nearly 200 years after David Coley purchased a large stretch of land in then-Fairfield in the early 1700s.

Actor Paul Newman shows his Westport, Connecticut, home, 11 August 2004 | Source: Getty Images

Actor Paul Newman shows his Westport, Connecticut, home, 11 August 2004 | Source: Getty Images

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The area then became Coley village, then Coley Town, and finally, what is known today as the Coleytown area of Westport. The charming colonial home sits at 277 and 275 North Avenue in the Coleytown section of town.

The living room is a blend of a natural brick look and stained wood, with the shelving laden with antique souvenirs. The stone-walled home boasts six bedrooms, with the master on the first floor and five full and one-half baths.

Actor Paul Newman shows his Westport, Connecticut, home, 11 August 2004 | Source: Getty Images

Actor Paul Newman shows his Westport, Connecticut, home, 11 August 2004 | Source: Getty Images

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Other unique features in the home include five working fireplaces, wide plank chestnut floors, exposed beams, original woodwork, energy-efficient features, and a wood shingle roof.

The home also has a wine cellar, tasting room, patio, porch, and two pergolas just outside, where a gravel-filled driveway cascades around beautiful bushes along 355 feet of river frontage.

US actor Paul Newman poses in the garden of his Westport, Connecticut, home, 11 August 2004. | Source: Getty Images

US actor Paul Newman poses in the garden of his Westport, Connecticut, home, 11 August 2004. | Source: Getty Images

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It also boasts well-manicured lawns, formal and informal gardens, and a heated Gunite in-ground swimming pool where residents of the home can relax and have a good time.

Vintage stone walls and mature trees mark the garden's entirety, which opens into the river. A footbridge crosses the river by a waterfall, providing an ideal area for the residents to enjoy a hike.

Paul Newman with wife Joanne Woodward (sitting) children Melissa "Lissy" Newman, Claire "Clea" Newman | Source: Getty Images

Paul Newman with wife Joanne Woodward (sitting) children Melissa "Lissy" Newman, Claire "Clea" Newman | Source: Getty Images

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Woodward recalls the house being the fourth or fifth they saw during their house hunting, but when they set their eyes on it, they knew they had found the perfect place to raise their children. She mused:

"It's the most beautiful house that was ever designed for a family with five children."

NEWMAN'S FINAL RESTING PLACE

 US actor Paul Newman poses for photographers in the streets of Paris, 23 August 1989. The Newman couple were in Paris for the shooting of James Ivory's film "Mr. and Mrs. Bridges" | Source: Getty Images

US actor Paul Newman poses for photographers in the streets of Paris, 23 August 1989. The Newman couple were in Paris for the shooting of James Ivory's film "Mr. and Mrs. Bridges" | Source: Getty Images

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The "Twilight" actor knew that the colonial home was where he would find solace from the hustle and bustle of Hollywood, but he also wanted it to be his final resting place once his day came.

In May 2008, Newman was scheduled to make his professional stage directing debut with the Westport Country Playhouse's production of "Of Mice and Men," but he stepped down on May 23, citing his health concerns.

That June, the press widely reported that Newman had been diagnosed with lung cancer. The actor had reportedly disclosed to an associate that he had been diagnosed with the illness 18 months earlier.

Paul Newman backstage at the Shrine Auditorium during the 67th Annual Academy Awards, March 27, 1995, in Los Angeles, California. | Source: Getty Images

Paul Newman backstage at the Shrine Auditorium during the 67th Annual Academy Awards, March 27, 1995, in Los Angeles, California. | Source: Getty Images

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He began receiving treatment at the Sloan-Kettering hospital in New York City, and a short while after completing his chemotherapy, the doctors told him he had a few weeks to live.

Newman did not want to die in hospital. He told his family he wanted to spend his final moments in the home he'd shared with his wife of five decades and three children. A source said as Digital Spy reports:

"Paul didn't want to die in the hospital. Joanne (Woodward, the actor's wife) and his daughters are beside themselves with grief."

Actors Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman attend a reception for a special screening of "The Woodsman" on January 10, 2004 in New York City.| Source: Getty Images

Actors Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman attend a reception for a special screening of "The Woodsman" on January 10, 2004 in New York City.| Source: Getty Images

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They could not come to terms with the news that Newman was closing in on his final days. The magnetic titan of Hollywood finally breathed his last on the morning of September 26, 2008, surrounded by friends and family. He was 83.

His family holds beautiful memories of him in the home they shared for decades. His daughter Melissa Newman recalled sledding down the hill with her siblings atop their father's back as he navigated a Flexible Flyer.

Paul Newman and his daughters Clea and Melissa at the New York film critics awards in 1995 | Source: Getty Images

Paul Newman and his daughters Clea and Melissa at the New York film critics awards in 1995 | Source: Getty Images

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She also recalls how her grandmother kept a full dresser of fabric scraps in the house which she shared with her, noting that she still had some of them. She reminisced:

"My little sister had a tag sale in front of the barn so she could buy a pony with her friend Susan. My parents came by with Sir Lawrence Olivier, and he was so charmed he gave them a check."

After spending decades full of unforgettable memories in the home, it was finally put on the market a few years after Newman passed on and was listed for $7,499,000.

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