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The celebrity power couples that set Hollywood alight

Ethan Hawke’s fascinating new documentary on Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward shows that being married and famous is anything but easy

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When Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman met, she was an Oscar winner and he had yet to land his first major film role. Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images

When Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman met, she was an Oscar winner and he had yet to land his first major film role. Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images

Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford were Hollywood’s original power couple. Photo by General Photographic Agency/Getty Images

Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford were Hollywood’s original power couple. Photo by General Photographic Agency/Getty Images

Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton on the film set of 'The Sandpiper' in 1965. Photo by API via Getty Images

Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton on the film set of 'The Sandpiper' in 1965. Photo by API via Getty Images

Still together: Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell in 2013. Photo by Dan Steinberg via AP

Still together: Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell in 2013. Photo by Dan Steinberg via AP

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When Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman met, she was an Oscar winner and he had yet to land his first major film role. Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images

Not one to waste a lockdown, Ethan Hawke spent the dark days of 2020 assembling The Last Movie Stars, a remarkable documentary series on one of his heroes, Paul Newman. But not just Newman, because the great star of the 1950s and ’60s was part of one of Hollywood’s most celebrated and enduring couples.

Newman was married with two kids when he met actress Joanne Woodward during rehearsals for the Broadway play Picnic. It was, as they say, a coup de foudre: the pair fell madly in love, got married in 1958 and stayed together for the next 50 years, each excelling in their chosen fields and supporting the other’s ambitions. There were problems along the way: Newman lost a son, Scott, from his first marriage and, as we find out in Hawke’s documentary, he also struggled with alcoholism.


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