Woodward’s mother was such a film fan that mother and daughter were in the crowd of fans at the premiere of “Gone With the Wind” in Atlanta in 1939. The then-9-year-old Woodward rushed into the caravan of stars and plopped herself in the lap of Laurence Olivier, who was the boyfriend and future husband of star, Vivien Leigh. Ironically, nearly 40 years later the two starred in the NBC adaptation of William Inge’s play, “Come Back, Little Sheba." Olivier even remembered the incident when Woodward told him of their brief encounter.
The actress won numerous beauty contests as a teenager and got her first taste for acting in high school. She attended Louisiana State University for two years, eventually going to New York City where she studied with Sanford Meisner at the Neighborhood playhouse and also at the Actors Studio.
She fell in love with Paul Newman while they were both on Broadway in William Inge’s “Picnic” in 1953. Newman was married at the time; he finally got a divorced and the two married in 1958.
After appearing on several live anthology dramas on TV, Woodward made her film debut in 1955’s Civil War western, “Count Three and Pray,” and won a best actress Oscar for her riveting turn as a woman with multiple personalities in 1957’s “The Three Faces of Eve.”
In 1958, she made her first film with Newman, “The Long, Hot Summer.” Woodward and Newman made several more films but they paled in comparison to their first. However, they created movie magic with the 1968 drama, “Rachel, Rachel,” Newman's directorial debut. Woodward received her second best actress nomination for her performance as a 35-year-old virgin.
During the 1970s, the mother of three girls continued to act in films and in TV, earning another best actress Oscar nomination for her turn as a bored housewife in 1973’s “Summer Wishes, Winter Dreams” and earning her first Emmy for 1978’s “See How She Runs,” as a housewife and mother who trains for the Boston Marathon. She picked up another Emmy as a college professor with Alzheimer’s in 1985’s “Do You Remember Love.” Woodward earned her final Oscar nomination for James Ivory’s 1990 drama, “Mr. and Mrs. Smith,” which starred Newman as her husband. Her last feature film role was as Tom Hanks’ mother in 1993’s “Philadelphia.”
Her final on-screen appearance with Newman was in HBO’s 2005 miniseries, “Empire Falls,” for which she received an Emmy and Golden Globe nomination as a town matriarch and owner of a diner. Newman died three years later of lung cancer.
|1957||Best Actress||The Three Faces of Eve||Win|
|1968||Best Actress||Rachel, Rachel||Nomination|
|1973||Best Actress||Summer Wishes, Winter Dreams||Nomination|
|1990||Best Actress||Mr. & Mrs. Bridge||Nomination|