It is painfully obvious what people think about Joanne Woodward because they do not say it. When people talk about Joanne they say she's a wonderful actress, an amazing person, and so lucky to have been married to Paul Newman. Is anything missing from that list? There seems to be a silent pact, made out of respect and admiration for the Newmans, and a selfish desire not to appear judgemental, to say nothing about the way Joanne Woodward looks. I think she was a pretty lady. But I bet you the most commonly thought thing about Paul and Joanne is something like, "How did she ever get HIM?" or "Gosh, he's gorgeous, but she's kind of ordinary." Nobody mentions Joanne without mentioning Paul, and secretly even the most devoted fans must wonder if the couple acknowledged to themselves that hubby was so much better looking than wifey. Almost as if he were doing her a favor by marrying her.
Putting aside our rather interesting fictional history together, this post is dedicated to Joanne Woodward, an effort to bring her beauty, talent, and personality out of the shadows. I wonder, if perhaps I should actually do this, because I think women feel threatened by a woman who got everything we all want without doing it the way the rest of us do. It bothers us because if skin deep qualities won't get you Paul Newman, what is it that she's got the rest of us haven't?? Seriously. All the beautiful women in Hollywood, and he chose her. Why?? So instead of trying to convince everyone Joanne Woodward has everything we don't think she does, the focus will be on what we haven't noticed she has--those elusive traits that must be super special.
First of all, she was pretty in a girl-next-door way. Among all the glitzy, fake Hollywood goddesses, obsessed with the way they look, someone with a down-to-earth, girl you can come home to appeal has its advantages. Joanne was pretty, but not so stunning you felt she was unreal or mysterious. How would you feel if your mother was Greta Garbo? On a day to day basis, you don't want someone who inspires worship. Do you like people because they're superior to you? I think these pictures capture Joanne's non-threatening beauty:
Only occasionally is she really beautiful, but it doesn't matter. And I am beginning to wonder if it is just me, but does she remind you of your mother, at least in Sybil? OK, never mind.
Not willing to be extravagant for the cause of glamour, Joanne made her own dress for the 1953 Academy Awards ceremony. Paul Newman must have appreciated that--you never, ever hear a man complain his wife spends too little on clothing. Also, the dress is actually quite nice. She seems to have been a skilled seamstress.
Because she isn't very famous apart from her husband, it is hard to find out anything about Joanne's personality. Yes, the famous personality that must be The Secret. Like I said, there isn't much about it, but what there is reveals a humorous, confident, intelligent, and down to earth woman.
"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."“I'm tired of playing worn-out depressing ladies in frayed bathrobes. I'm going to get a new hairdo and look terrific and go back to school and even if nobody notices, I'm going to be the most self-fulfilled lady on the block.”
"Intensity is so much more becoming in the young."
"I'm upset when I see that people don't seem to observe what's happening with the environment, what's happening in terms of global warming. "
Her favorite activities are said to be ballet and horseback riding. Her favorite actress is Bette Davis and she prefers the theater to film.
Maybe someday people will say Paul Newman was lucky to have been married to Joanne Woodward (and he was!) but at the moment she is a very unappreciated lady.