“It is a risk to love. What if it doesn’t work out? Ah, but what if it does?”
— Peter McWilliams
Golden : adj ˈgōl-dən radiantly youthful & vigorous; of a high degree of excellence.
Fifty years, for any marriage is an extraordinary feat — but, a Hollywood marriage?Why, it’s an eternity! Paul Newman & Joanne Woodward were famously dubbed the golden couple of Hollywood, and a better description could not be given — blissfully happy, wonderfully grounded, and a charmingly lovely great love story by any standard . . .
Paul Newman met the beautiful blonde, Joanne Woodward, in 1953 during his Broadway debut starring in the romantic drama, Picnic. Joanne, an understudy to the female lead, was instantly captivated Paul — however, unfortunately for them both, Paul was already married.
Further to their shared love of Broadway, the pair had much in common: they were both members of Lee Strasberg’s prestigious Actors Studio, and after finalising the play, both took to Hollywood to take on the silver screen.
Despite not working together again for the next 4 years, they remained firm friends. Finally, in 1957, after Paul had divorced his first wife, they were cast opposite one another in the movie The Long, Hot Summer [trailer]. Passion immediately reignited, and an intimate love affair began. On January 29th, 1958 the pair married.
The marriage of Paul Newman & Joanne Woodward was not grand or ostentatious, but a lovely, quiet affair at the Hotel El Ranch Vegas, in Las Vegas, Nevada — but it was nonetheless, very ‘them’. As a wedding gift to his beautiful new wife, Paul gifted Joanne a silver cup that he had inscribed with the words, “So you wound up with Apollo/ If he’s sometimes hard to swallow/Use this.” Following the intimate ceremony, the couple honeymooned at London’s Connaught Hotel before returning to the US to make their home in an 18th-century Connecticut farmhouse — very atypical for a celebrity couple of the fifty’s.
When asked about their unique choice of residence, Joanne responded “We were never Hollywood people; we just liked it better here. It also probably helps that we always enjoyed each other’s company.”
“From the Terrace”, 1960
Not only were they blissfully happy in their comfortable little abode in Westport, Connecticut, they also completely immersed themselves into the local community — most prominently, restoring the Westport Country Playhouse [of which, Joanne remained the Artistic Director until 2009].
“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.” –Joanne Woodward
Joanne described her marriage to Paul as, “Being married to the most considerate, romantic man”.
Throughout their wonderful fifty-year marriage, Paul & Joanne starred in numerous films together, as well as Paul directing several films Joanne acted in. One of the secrets to the lasting relationship of this down-to-earth couple would have been the fact that they never ‘sugar-coated’ their weakness’ — they openly admitted that working together, especially on The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the Moon Marigolds caused strain on their marriage. But their respect and adoration of each other pushed them to work through the tension and learn from their mistakes.
It was in January of 2008 that the steadfast couple celebrated their ‘golden’ 50th wedding anniversary. Still as happy as ever, Newman was set to direct a stage production at the Westport Country Playhouse, Of Mice and Men — however, quite unfortunately had to withdraw in June of that year due to ‘health reasons’. It was tragically announced that Paul had been diagnosed with lung cancer. The hearts of fans the world over went out to this beautiful couple as the future looked bleak. The suffering did not last long — Paul sadly passed away on September 26th, 2008 at the age of 83.
When asked the secret to their long & happy marriage, Paul attributed it to the “correct amounts of lust and respect.” And “. . . because of great impatience tempered by patience. When you have been together this long, sometimes you drive each other nuts, but underneath that is some core of affection and respect.”
When asked why he never was unfaithful to Joanne, Paul famously replied, “Why fool around with hamburger when you have steak at home?”
Indeed, they were the golden couple of Hollywood — but seemingly with a lot more sensibility and prudence then normally seen. Paul & Joanne were completely smitten with one another, but knew it would take more then that to create a long and happy marriage.
Sagacious, but wonderfully happy until the very end, this great love story is based on judicious principles which are a wonderful lesson to any romance — celebrity or otherwise.
At their 1958 nuptials, The Art of Marriage was recited, and in itself, could quite possibly be the ultimate secret to their long and happy marriage. . .
In the Art of Marriage the little things are the important things.
It means never being too old to hold hands, or to say I love you.
It’s never going to bed angry.
It is at no time taking the other for granted; the courtship should not end with the honeymoon.
Allow it to continue through the years.
It’s having a mutual sense of values and common objectives.
It’s standing together facing the world.
It’s forming a circle of love that gathers in the whole family.
It’s doing things for each other, not in the attitude of duty or sacrifice, but in the spirit of joy.
It’s speaking words of appreciation and demonstrating gratitude in thoughtful ways.
It is not looking for perfection in each other and yet seeing each other perfect as you are.
It is cultivating flexibility, patience, understanding and a sense of humour.
It’s having the capacity to forgive and forget.
It’s giving each other an atmosphere in which each can grow.
It is finding room for things of the spirit.
It is a common search for the good and the beautiful.
It is establishing a relationship in which the independence is equal, dependence is mutual and the obligation is reciprocal.
It’s not only marrying the right partner, it’s being the right partner.