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Newman with his first wife, Jackie.

Paul Newman and Jacqueline Witte

One of Hollywood's original Golden Couples, the 50-year union between Newman and actress Joanne Woodward was heralded as a rarity—and it certainly was. The love between them was palpable, yet we often forget that it was a marriage that began in adultery.

In 1953, while an understudy for the lead role in William Inge's play, Picnic, Newman met the 22-year-old Woodward. Years later, Newman told reporters he'd found her "modern and independent" and he was struck by her beauty. But Woodward knew he had a wife and rebuffed his advances—at first. By this point, Newman had been married since 1949 to Jackie Witte and the couple had three children together.

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Newman and Joanne Woodward

"Paul and I were good friends before we were lovers," Woodward once said. "We really liked each other…there was trust." It wasn't long before their attraction to one another became apparent to others—including Jackie. It was during a party for the success of Newman's 1956 TV movie, Somebody Up There Likes Me, when everything came to a head. That night, Jackie hired a babysitter to look after the kids so she could join her husband for the celebration, but Newman bailed on the party and took a long, intoxicated drive through the city and found himself in handcuffs by the end of the night. He'd started turning to alcohol to subdue his guilt over his feelings for Woodward. But, after eight years of marriage, Newman finally confirmed to Jackie his love for Woodward and, even though she begged him to stay for the sake of their kids, Newman left his wife.

 

"I was probably too immature to make a success of my first marriage," he later said.

During filming of 1958's The Long, Hot Summer, Jackie finally granted Newman a divorce after finding out Woodward was pregnant. Newman remained tight-lipped about what exactly transpired between him and Jackie, but revealed this tidbit to a reporter: "[I felt] guilty as hell, and I'll carry it with me for the rest of my life."

Newman and Woodward became the Hollywood idyll for successful marriages. They married in 1958 and were still very much in love when he died in 2008. The couple had three daughters together.

Next: Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio

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