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Sunday, March 3, 2024
March 3, 2024

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Paul Newman’s love letters to Joanne Woodward were too ‘naughty’ for daughter’s book


Well, mom and dad. This is awkward.

Paul Newman’s daughter says that some of his “naughty” letters to her mother, Joanne Woodward, were too racy to include in her book about the Oscar winners’ high-profile love affair.

And what would you expect from a title such as this: “Head Over Heels: Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman — A Love Affair in Words and Pictures” ?

The photobook draws from said letters, which were nearly lost forever, his daughter Melissa Newman said. The younger Newman says that she was moments from throwing away a ripped bag that contained them — a bag she found in her parents’ mouse- and moth-addled attic — only to realize that its contents included the first 10 letters that the legendary actor wrote “The Three Faces of Eve” Oscar winner.

The missives, she explained, show how deeply Newman had fallen for her mom, whom he was married to for 50 years before he died in 2008.

“I always say, ‘People, read the things that my dad wrote to my mom … [and] take notes, man,’” she told Fox News Digital. “This is how you woo somebody. And it’s just so obvious that he was just [hit] upside the head. He fell for her so hard.”

Woodward fell in love with “The Hustler” star in 1953 while they were both understudies on Broadway in William Inge’s “Picnic.” Newman, who had three children and was still married to Jackie Witte at the time, had an affair with her and they ultimately married in 1958 — the same year he divorced Witte.

The “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” star died of lung cancer at age 83. Woodward, 92, has lived with Alzheimer’s disease that was diagnosed the year before her husband’s death.

But the former power couple’s love story has also lived on in books and on screen. Newman’s posthumous memoir, “Paul Newman: The Extraordinary Life of an Ordinary Man,” was published last year and the brutally honest book addressed his transition from his first to second marriage. The actor-director also explained how Woodward turned him into a “sexual creature.” The book also arrived on the heels of the HBO docuseries “ The Last Movie Stars,” which also depicted his and Woodward’s life.

Although some of Newman’s words in the letters his daughter discovered were “bawdy” and “naughty,” Melissa Newman clarified that they were “not smutty.”

“There [are] quotes from the letters in the book,” she told Fox News Digital. “I would read the letters and just go, ‘Oh, this is so sweet. This should go in the book.’ And then I would be reading on, and then I’d go, ‘Ooh, Dad, I can’t put this in the book!’”

“Head Over Heels” was curated by Melissa Newman and was published earlier this month by Hachette Books. The book invites readers into the couple’s private world and chronicles their romance with images taken by more than a dozen photographers, including David Sutton and John Engstead, the publisher has said. It also features more than 100 photos, some rare and never published before, accompanied by “snapshots, letters, handwritten notes and family treasures.”

“Together they beautifully illuminate the connection between two complex, passionate artists who opened their hearts and minds to each other for over half a century. This book is an homage to the possibility and power of love,” Hachette said.

Melissa Newman also wrote the foreword for her father’s posthumous memoir and, in a 2022 interview with the L.A. Times, said that she and her sister Clea Newman Soderlund (who wrote the afterword) drew much of the material for the Knopf release from a cache of personal content their father saved.

In transcripts that a friend of theirs discovered, Newman himself explicitly gave permission for the material to be used: “It would be nice to straighten up the record,” he said, adding, with typical modesty, “if there is any interest in a biography.”