Paul Newman’s Daughter Surprised by ‘Naughty’ Love Letters She Found in His Attic

THE LONG, HOT SUMMER, Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward, 1958
20th Century Fox Film Corp./Everett Collection
20th Century Fox Film Corp./Everett Collection

Melissa Newman has been learning more about her parent’s love story and compiled just about everything she uncovered in a new book titled “Head Over Heels: Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman – A Love Affair in Words and Pictures.” Melissa is one of three children shared by the late Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward. The couple married in 1958 and remained together until Newman’s death in 2008.

Melissa recalls looking through the attic at the family’s home and almost throwing out something very special. She explained, “We’d gone through ripped bags. I remember right before one was about to be thrown out, I reached in – there were moths and dead mice everywhere… And I found the first 10 letters my dad ever wrote to my mom. It was this close to being thrown away.”

Portrait of married American actors Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward standing outdoors, circa 1962

Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Some of the letters were filled with sweet words of admiration and others were a little more “naughty,” so much so that she admitted she couldn’t add it to the book. Melissa said that it wasn’t too bad but it wasn’t something she wanted to share with the world, adding that even the “naughtier” parts were still charming. She added, “There [are] quotes from the letters in the book. 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!’”

American actors and newlyweds Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward kiss behind a wedding cake during their wedding reception at the El Rancho hotel-casino, Las Vegas, Nevada, January 29, 1958

Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The book contains an insider look at the longtime marriage of the two famous celebrities as well as over 100 photos, some of which had never been seen by the public before. Newman and Woodward first met in 1953 when they were understudies for the Broadway play Picnic. At the time, Newman was married to Jackie Witte. A few years later, Newman and Witte divorced and he married Woodward in 1958.

HARRY & SON, Joanne Woodward, Paul Newman, 1984

Everett Collection

Things weren’t always easy. Newman struggled with alcoholism which threatened to break up the family. Melissa concluded, “Their navigating of their relationship was really messy. But they did it. And they stayed together in a Hollywood marriage for 50 years. That’s a rare bird right there… They fought with each other just like everybody’s parents. They didn’t fight with each other in front of us, but I do remember that my mother was tempestuous… There was a lot of stress, but there was also this thread… My dad [said] they would have these screaming fights. And he said, ‘I would leave. And then I realized I had nowhere to go, and then I would come back.’ They were best friends. Yeah, there would be rough times. They would argue. They came close to splitting up several times, but they always came back together… They were so connected.”

Click here to order the book on Amazon.

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February 2023

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