S ix – that’s how many storage units the Woodward-Newman family sorted through to assemble over 300 remarkable objects coming to auction at Sotheby’s in The World of Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman.
“It’s an emotional moment, but my family really felt that it was time to share some of these belongings with the public,” said Nell Newman, daughter of movie stars Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman during an appearance on TODAY on 31 May. Nell appeared alongside Sotheby’s chairperson Mari-Claudia Jiménez to highlight some of the most remarkable objects from the sale
Over 50 years, the Woodward-Newman marriage became the stuff of Hollywood legend, and the extraordinary collection reflects the beauty of their life together. It includes photos from the couple’s relationship, scripts, props and souvenirs from their many movies – including the shackles from Cool Hand Luke, which Nell Newman said the children used to play with – and even Joanne’s wedding dress, worn in 1958, five years after meeting Paul in their agent’s office. The fact that the couple spent 5 decades together is “one of the highlights of their stories,” said host Savannah Guthrie. “They seem to transcend Hollywood with that relationship.”
Newman, Guthrie noted, was nearly as prolific a race-car driver as he was an actor – an aspect captured in the RM Sotheby’s auction High Speed: Paul Newman’s Racing Legacy. Woodward, for her part, was “not particularly in love” with her husband’s racing career, said her daughter. In fact, one of the collection’s most anticipated lots is a Rolex Daytona inscribed with the words “Drive Very Slowly Joanne.” Yet Nell Newman noted: “She went to every race.”
The auctions include a number of awards from every aspect of the couple’s lives, including a second Rolex given to Newman as a trophy for winning 24 Hours of Daytona and the white leather gloves that Woodward wore when accepting an Academy Award for Three Faces of Eve in 1957. But the true “highest honor,” joked Nell Newman, was her father’s appearance on President Richard Nixon’s “Enemies List” – a copy of which he had framed. Containing the names of people who Nixon considered political opponents, it served for the Woodward-Newmans as a kind of invitation: “He had a big party and invited everybody on it.”