I n the early 1950s, two young aspiring actors arrived in New York to fulfill lifelong dreams of taking center stage. Shortly thereafter in 1953, Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman were cast in the Broadway production of William Inge’s “Picnic”, sparking what would become a decades-long romance and cementing the stars as Hollywood’s ‘golden couple.’ The two would team up again four years later to film The Long, Hot Summer – a time which Paul fondly recounted in his recently published memoir, The Extraordinary Life of an Ordinary Man, in which “Joanne and I could do what we longed for years to do in public, as well as put on screen what had already been discovered between us. There was a glue that held us together then, and through the rest of our life together. And that glue was this: anything seemed possible. The good, the bad, and the wonderful. With all other people, some things were possible, but not everything. For us, the promise of everything was there from the beginning.”
This June, a spotlight will shine once again on Joanne and Paul, when Sotheby’s brings to auction The World of Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman, drawing back the curtains of the stars’ personal lives, unveiling a retrospective and intimate point of view of the couple’s thrilling, yet exclusive world that existed outside of the limelight.
In addition to Paul’s aforementioned memoir, the forthcoming auctions will closely trail the six-part documentary series ‘The Last Movie Stars’ released on HBO Max in July 2022, based on audio recordings of interviews with Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman's friends, colleagues, and family members that were subsequently turned into transcripts.
The series of sales, consisting of more than 300 individual items that the legendary actors assembled and enjoyed throughout their 50-year marriage, will offer a rare window into the personal and professional lives of the famed couple who were also dedicated philanthropists. Drawn primarily from their residence in Connecticut, Sotheby’s sales will offer film and entertainment memorabilia, automotive and racing collectables, family photographs, antique furniture, as well as fine decorative arts collected by the couple. Together, the auctions will illuminate the two worlds that Woodward and Newman occupied: the glamorous lifestyle of a Hollywood power-couple and their private life where they surrounded themselves with the people, objects and philanthropic causes they cherished the most.
“Our parents have dedicated their lives to pursuing the things that inspired them, whether personally, professionally, or as collectors. We hope the public takes as much pleasure from this collection that our family has cherished for decades, which offers further insight into who they were beyond their glamorous Hollywood personas.”
Highlights of the June sales will include: film and entertainment memorabilia comprising of autographed scripts, awards, props and wardrobe associated with projects across Joanne and Paul’s storied careers such as The Color of Money, The Three Faces of Eve, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, No Down Payment, Hud, Rachel, Rachel, and Cool Hand Luke; a vast selection of automobilia and racing memorabilia – a passion of Paul’s that exhilarated him well into his later years – featuring racing suits, helmets, championship rings, medals and awards from the Newman/Haas racing team and Rolex 24 at Daytona; political and presidential memorabilia, including autographed letters and photographs from presidents Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, and Bill Clinton; a selection of personal effects, highlighting Joanne’s wedding dress and ring from her marriage to Paul in 1958; as well photographs with fellow actors from the Golden Age of Hollywood such as Robert Redford, Anthony Perkins and other entertainment elite; 19th century American folk art portraiture, 18th century American and English furniture, an assortment of decorative art from their residences in Connecticut; and more.