Melissa “Lissy” Newman is an actress, artist, and singer from America. She is the daughter of Hollywood screen legends Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward. A native of California, her birth coincided with the release of her parents’ film ‘Paris Blues’. Having grown up as the daughter of two of the most prominent thespians of their time, Melissa was exposed to the spotlight since her birth. However, both Newman and Woodward strove to maintain a semblance of normalcy in their private lives. As a result, Melissa and her siblings grew up in an attentive and encouraging household. She has two sisters and two half-sisters. She also had a half-brother, who passed away in 1978. Melissa found some success as an actress. One of her early roles was an uncredited role in the 1971 film ‘Sometimes a Great Notion.’ She then went on to appear in TV shows like ‘Hawkins’ and ‘The New Perry Mason’. Her last cinematic appearance was in the 1990 film ‘Mr. & Mrs. Bridge’. In recent years, she has established herself as an artist and cabaret singer.
Melissa Newman appeared in her father’s film ‘Sometimes a Great Notion’ in 1971. Based on Ken Kesey’s novel of the same name, the film also starred Henry Fonda, Michael Sarrazin, and Lee Remick. Richard Jaeckel was also involved in the film and earned an Oscar nomination for his performance. Melissa, who was nine years old during the filming, portrayed the uncredited role of Lissy Stamper.
In 1973, she appeared in the second episode of the first season of CBS’ mystery drama series ‘Hawkins’. That year, she was also cast in a season one episode of CBS’ 1970s revival of ‘Perry Mason’ (1957-66), titled ‘The New Perry Mason’. Melissa then appeared in the 1978 telefilm ‘See How She Runs’. Credited as Lissy Newman, she got the chance to work with her mother in this project, portraying her on-screen daughter, Janey Quinn. For her performance, Woodward won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress – Miniseries or a Movie in 1978.
In 1990, Melissa played the younger version of her mother’s character in the Ivory-Merchant production ‘Mr. & Mrs. Bridge’. This is not only her last film to date but also the final film in which her parents appeared together.
Acting has never been a profession for her. It was something she did sporadically as a child. In her late teens and early 20s, Melissa was employed as an assistant nursery school teacher, stable hand, horse exerciser and staff member in a children’s art program. She is an artist herself, almost exclusively working as a sculptor as well as with ceramics. She is also a prominent cabaret singer. In the early 1990s, she was hailed as one of the most promising cabaret singers in New York. She debuted as a professional singer in May 1990 at an AIDS benefit at the cabaret Don`t Tell Mama. In 1991, she received the ‘Backstage’ magazine`s Bistro Award for Outstanding Vocalist. In an interview to ‘Chicago Tribune,’ her mother admitted that she had wanted her daughter to be an opera singer, but she had loved jazz since she was a child. She had also expressed her hope that the singing career could lead to acting someday. However, Melissa had no interest in acting again, stating that “I think that would be asking for trouble”.
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Family & Personal Life
Born on September 27, 1961, in Hollywood, California, USA, Melissa is the second of three daughters of Paul Newman and his second wife, Joanne Woodward. Her older sister is Elinor "Nell" Teresa, who was born in 1959. Her younger sister, Claire "Clea" Olivia, was born in 1965. Melissa also has two older half-sisters, named Susan (born 1953) and Stephanie Kendall (born 1954), through her father’s previous marriage to Jackie Witte. Her older half-brother, Scott (born 1950), was an actor. He passed away in November 1978 after overdosing on drugs. As they were growing up, she and her siblings divided their time with their parents between Westport, Connecticut and Hollywood. After leaving high school, she attended Sarah Lawrence College, from where she graduated in 1988. Melissa’s father died on September 26, 2008, after a long battle with lung cancer.
On November 12, 1995, Melissa exchanged wedding vows with middle-school teacher Raphael "Raphe" Elkind. They are the of parents of two boys, Henry and Peter Elkind. The family presently lives in Westport, Connecticut. Their 19th-century home was previously the residence of Newman and Woodward.