“I have steak at home. Why go out for hamburger?”
One of our all time favorite celebrity couples, Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, actually began their decades-long relationship as an adulterous affair. Paul Newman met and fell in love with Joanne Woodward in 1953 while making his Broadway debut in a production of William Inge’s ‘Picnic‘. Their relationship developed into an affair – Paul Newman was married to Jacqueline Witte at the time, with whom he had three children. The affair continued for five years until Paul finally plucked up the courage to ask his wife for a divorce. He later said he felt “guilty as hell” about this time in his life, “I’ll carry it with me for the rest of my life.”
On a Hollywood landscape littered with countless broken marriages, the Newman-Woodward pairing became the gold standard: They celebrated 50 years of marriage just before Newman’s death in 2008 at age 83. Paul Newman died at the Connecticut home the two shared since 1960, Joanne Woodward at his side. Newman once attributed their lasting union to “correct amounts of lust and respect.” He offered an oft-quoted response when asked in Playboy magazine about the temptations of other women: “I have steak at home. Why go out for hamburger?”
After marrying the petite blonde in 1958 in a Las Vegas civil ceremony, Newman and Woodward moved into an 18th-century Connecticut farmhouse, where they went on to raise three daughters – Nell, Melanie and Melissa. They also maintained a New York apartment and a residence in Malibu, California, but Joanne said of their life together, “We were never Hollywood people, we just liked it better here [Connecticut]. It also probably helps that we always enjoyed each other’s company.”
A few months after their wedding Joanne Woodward attended the Oscars with her new husband, having made her own gown in their barn, spending $100 on materials. She went on to win the Best Actress Academy Award for her role in The Three Faces of Eve. They appeared in several films together, including The Long Hot Summer, Paris Blues, and Mr. and Mrs. Bridge. Newman directed Woodward in several other movies, including Rachel, Rachel – a Best Picture nominee, and Woodward directed Newman in Our Town on Broadway, a role that won him a Tony award nomination.
When Woodward returned to Sarah Lawrence College to earn her degree at age 60, she graduated with youngest daughter Clea. Newman marked the occasion by delivering the commencement address.
The couple were also involved in many political and philanthropic endeavors. They founded Newman’s Own, a food company from which they donated all post-tax profits and royalties to charity. These donation have since exceeded $330 million. They also were strong supporters of the environmental movement and were among the first Hollywood celebrities to support gay rights.
“Joanne,” Newman once said, “is one of the last of the great broads.” Joanne on living with Paul, “Sexiness wears thin after a while and beauty fades, but to be married to a man who makes you laugh every day, ah, now that’s a real treat’.”