Joanna Woodward is the widow of Paul Newman. Their marriage and legendary lives will soon be explored in an HBO Max docuseries. Rumors persist that Woodward is privately suffering from Alzheimer’s. Let’s learn about the Golden Age legend and see if there’s anything to the story.
Joanne Woodward And Paul Newman
A native Georgian, Woodward was born in 1930 and named for Joan Crawford. At nine years old, she attended the premiere of Gone with the Wind where she boldly sat on Laurence Olivier’s lap. Majoring in drama, she soon moved to New York City to study at the Actors Studio.
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In 1952, Woodward met Newman for the first time. The two got married in 1958 after his divorce from Jacqueline Witte was finalized. Against the odds of Hollywood marriages, the two stayed together through his death in 2008. The two won numerous awards over those years, starred in a few movies, and established the famous Hole in the Wall Gang Camp.
She May Have Alzheimer’s Disease
Ever since Newman’s death, rumors have swirled about Woodward suffering from Alzheimer’s. The National Enquirer has published stories about her tragically forgetting Newman. When she turned 90 in 2020, articles swirled from questionable sources about the family keeping her diagnosis a secret.
Is there anything to these rumors? Well, maybe. Closer claimed Woodward had Alzheimer’s in a 2021 story. The article did include quotes from Woodward’s children, so it may have been accurate. Granted, the children did not say a word about her health in the story. At 92, dementia is all too common. The best evidence for this rumor has to be her absence from public life. Woodward hasn’t been photographed since 2013.
That being said, the family has never issued an official statement. Woodward may simply desire privacy in her golden years, but that doesn’t necessarily mean she’s suffering from Alzheimer’s. Furthermore, no news source like the New York Times or the BBC has reported anything on the source. There’s circumstantial evidence, like Woodward’s lack of public appearances, but that’s nothing to hang one’s hat on.
Life Imitating Art?
In 1985, Woodward starred in a made-for-TV movie entitled Do You Remember Love. She played Barbara Wyatt-Hollis, a loving wife losing her memory. It was one of the first major productions to depict Alzheimer’s disease, and it won Woodward an Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama or Comedy Special. To get diagnosed with the disease decades later would be a cruel irony indeed.
The Last Movie Stars is a six-part docuseries produced by Martin Scorcese and directed by Ethan Hawke. It uses decades of footage and includes Laura Linney and Paul Newman as Woodward and Newman respectively. It’s earning positive buzz and comes to HBO Max on July 21.
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