Joanne Woodward is an American actress best known for her Academy Award-winning role in the movie ‘The Three Faces of Eve.’ She is also a producer, activist and philanthropist. Over the course of her long and productive career she has portrayed a variety of roles, displaying her versatility as a character actress. She played all her roles with the same sincerity, whether it was of a shy schoolteacher or a woman suffering from multiple personality disorder. Born to a movie buff, she was named after her mother’s favorite actress, Joan Crawford, with a slight variation. Her mother took her to the movies when she was a little girl and soon Joanne too became fascinated with the silver screen. Beautiful and talented, the girl won many beauty contests as a teenager and soon started appearing in theatrical productions. Her father did not approve of her choice of a profession while her mother supported her with much delight. With time she established herself as a successful actress on the Broadway and also in Hollywood. In her film career she appeared in a number of movies with her husband, the superstar Paul Newman. Along with Newman she also established the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, a nonprofit residential summer camp which provides free services to children coping with serious illnesses.
Childhood & Early Life
Joanne Woodward was born on February 27, 1930, in Thomasville, Georgia, U.S. to Elinor (née Trimmier) and Wade Woodward, Jr. Her mother, a huge movie buff, named her after Joan Crawford, using the Southern pronunciation of the name – "Joanne." She has one older brother, Wade Jr.
Her mother took her to the movies often and it was not long before the young girl fell in love with films. Beautiful and talented, she began participating in beauty contests as a teenager and won several of them.
She aspired to become an actress, a decision that her father did not like. However, her mother supported her wholeheartedly. Joanne enrolled at the Louisiana State University, majoring in drama.
Following her graduation she appeared in a few small plays before moving to New York to study acting with Sanford Meisner.
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Joanne Woodward made her first television appearance on an episode of ‘Robert Montgomery Presents’ titled ‘Penny’ in 1952. Around this time she also became active on the stage.
She began her film career with a small role in the post-Civil War Western, ‘Count Three and Pray’, in 1955. The following year she appeared in the film ‘A Kiss Before Dying’ as an heiress who is pursued by a college student, played by Robert Wagner, who tries very desperately to win her over.
She portrayed a woman suffering from multiple personality disorder in the film ‘The Three Faces of Eve’ (1957) playing Eve White / Eve Black / Jane. Woodward’s convincing performance of the three distinct personalities of a southern housewife, a vixen, and a normal young woman earned her an Academy Award.
Married to actor Paul Newman in the late 1950s, she appeared in a series of films with him including: ‘The Long, Hot Summer’ (1958), ‘Rally 'Round the Flag, Boys!’ (1958), ‘From the Terrace’ (1960), ‘Paris Blues’ (1961), ‘A New Kind of Love’ (1963), and ‘Winning’ (1969).
She had a long career, spanning several decades. As she aged, she evolved into a character actress from being the leading lady. Her films in the 1970s include ‘The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds’ (1972), ‘Sybil’ (1976), ‘Come Back, Little Sheba’ (1977) and ‘See How She Runs’ (1978).
She appeared in several television productions along with films during the later years of her career. She played the role of Francine Whiting in ‘Empire Falls’, a two-part mini-series that aired on HBO in 2005. More recently, she voiced the character of Doris in the comedy-drama film ‘Lucky Them’ in 2013.
She played the role of Eve White / Eve Black / Jane—the three distinct personalities of a woman suffering from multiple personality disorder—in the film ‘The Three Faces of Eve’. Woodward portrayed each of the personalities with their own unique features and received much praise for her performance.
Another one of her memorable roles was in the drama film ‘Rachel, Rachel’ which was produced by Newman. She played the role of a shy, 35-year-old spinster schoolteacher in the drama film which was well-received by the audiences and the critics alike.
Awards & Achievements
Joanne Woodward won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her portrayal of Eve White / Eve Black / Jane in ‘The Three Faces of Eve’ in 1957. She also won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama and National Board of Review Award for Best Actress for the same role.
In 1960, she won the San Sebastián International Film Festival Zulueta Prize for Best Actress for portraying Carol in ‘The Fugitive Kind.’
For her 1968 movie ‘Rachel, Rachel’, she won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama, Kansas City Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress, and New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress.
Along with her husband Paul Newman, she established the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp in Ashford, Connecticut. A nonprofit organization, it includes a residential summer camp and year-round center serving children and their families coping with serious illnesses like cancer. The camp also provides advice and financial support to other camps with similar missions.
Personal Life & Legacy
Joanne Woodward first met actor Paul Newman in 1953. The two eventually began a relationship despite the fact that Newman was married at that time. Newman divorced his first wife and married Woodward in 1958.
Their marriage, which produced three daughters, proved to be one of Hollywood’s most enduring marriages. The couple was together for 50 years until Newman’s death in 2008.