Joanne Woodward, 92, Sacrificed Career to Raise Kids Who Keep Vigil at Her Bed Now as She Has Alzheimer’s

Joanne Woodward wasn’t terribly impressed with Paul Newman when they first met. Despite this, they fell in love. They married, but Joanne had to sacrifice her career to raise their kids. Now, Joanne suffers from Alzheimer’s and is taken care of by her children.

When Joanne Newman first laid eyes on Paul Newman, she felt only disdain. The two met in their agent’s office on a sweltering August day. Joanne remembered that she was almost melting away despite wearing a dress and stockings.

Meanwhile, this man in front of her didn’t even sweat in a suit. She recalled that he seemed to her like an ad for ice cream soda. And her first reaction was, “Ick. That’s disgusting!” But her initial scorn towards the handsome, ice-cream-soda-cool man she met that day would soon melt away.

Portrait of Joanne Woodward, circa 1955 | Source: Getty Images

In 1953, both Joanne and Paul joined a Broadway production of the piece “Picnic.” There, the two had the chance to get to know each other better, and Joanne soon realized that Paul had a good sense of humor and could make her laugh.

Joanne loved someone who could make her laugh, and the more time she spent around Paul, the more their relationship warmed up. Soon, the pair spent most of their time together. Their personalities were alike, and they both loved their careers.

But as much as they ended up liking each other, there was one hurdle to overcome. Paul was already married to Jackie Witte at the time, and they shared two children, Scott Newman and Susan Newman. So, Paul and Joanne had to keep things friendly for the time being.

Joanne Woodward takes a yoga break while filming ‘Blind Spot,’ a TV movie in Pittsburg, PA in January 1993 | Source: Getty Images

When the two starred together in “The Long, Hot Summer” in 1958, though, they began an affair. As the movie got closer to being finished, Paul started working on getting a divorce. By the time the film was done, he and Jackie parted ways.

Paul and Joanne’s Married Life
Despite a complicated start to their marriage, Paul and Joanne were together. The couple decided to settle down in Westport since it was a more relaxed area. They realized raising children there would be much easier than in the busy parts of New York.

Sadly, in 2007, the couple received a bout of terrible news.
Together they had three daughters, Elinor Teresa “Nell” in 1959, Melissa Stewart in 1961, and Claire Olivia “Clea” in 1965. They had created a calm life for themselves in a renovated barn on the edge of the Saugatuck River. Here, they could offer their kids a normal life.

Paul Newman (1925 – 2008) and Joanne Woodward, the former of whom photographs the latter, in their Greenwich Village apartment, New York, New York, circa 1961 | Source: Getty Images

They were far removed from the busy, public lives of other movie stars. They could go about their business without being harassed by photographers and journalists, and they could ensure their daughters had privacy. Their daughter Clea shared:

“They wanted us to have as normal a childhood as possible. They were very hands-on. We went to normal schools, they helped us with our homework, and we had dinner together and talked about our day.”

But everything wasn’t perfect in the little life they had built for themselves. Paul had a drinking problem that resulted in many fights. Joanne, on the other hand, had to take a break from acting to raise her kids. Soon, the mother of three became unhappy with her choices.

Paul Newman with his wife, American actress Joanne Woodward, circa 1965 | Source: Getty Images

That said, Paul and Joanne always found a way to resolve their conflicts. Joanne also loved her children very much. However, the actress commented that if she could do things over again, she would choose between raising children and having a career instead of trying both.

Ice Cream Sodas Always Melt
Joanne and her husband spent many happy years together. When trouble arose, they worked it out rather than threw in the towel, which meant their marriage lasted long and grew stronger over the years. Paul commented on their arguments:

“Joanne and I have had difficult, body-bending confrontations, but we haven’t surrendered. I’ve packed up and left a few times, and then I realize I have no place to go and I’m back in 10 minutes.”

Joanne’s frustration with having to sacrifice her career also had a toll on their relationship. But, despite the rough patches and fights, the two always decided to make their marriage work. Eventually, Joanne got back into acting, and the two collaborated on more than 16 projects.

Paul Newman and his wife, actress Joanne Woodward shown on location for a television special, 1974 | Source: Getty Images

Sadly, in 2007, the couple received a bout of terrible news. At first, Joanne was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. A few days later, Paul found out he had terminal cancer. In 2008, he passed away at the age of 83. Joanne’s condition worsened over the years, and a family insider shared:

“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.”

Joanne’s daughter, Melissa, has devoted herself to looking after her mother. The Oscar winner requires constant care in her old age, and Melissa lives with her in the old Westport family home. There is also a team of healthcare specialists who help Melissa look after her mother and keep the other children updated.

Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward during Sam Shepard Returns To The Stage After 31 Years Absence In “A Number” at NYTW Theater in New York City, New York, United States, 2004 | Source: Getty Images

As the movie star grows older, her memory fades drastically. She has largely forgotten her husband, and her children are also vague memories. But, her daughter Clea remembered the relationship her parents shared. She described how they held hands and said they were a rather old-fashioned pair.

The family did try an Alzheimer’s treatment at Yale University’s Adler Geriatric Assessment Center, but the effects were minimal. The children also decided to let Joanne spend her last days at home, where her caretakers can look after her.

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