Like us on Facebook
Follow us on Instagram

Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward Had a Special ‘Pleasure Den’

Photo Credits: 1. Fotos International / Archive Photos / Getty Images, 2. Silver Screen Collection / Getty Images
Photo Credits: 1. Fotos International / Archive Photos / Getty Images, 2. Silver Screen Collection / Getty Images

Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward shared a lifelong love and a 50-year marriage. The secret to such a lasting relationship? It turns out, having a designated sex room might have something to do with it!

In a new memoir featuring excerpts from a “completely honest” oral history project, one of Hollywood’s most iconic tough guys revealed an especially intimate aspect of his romance with Woodward, an Oscar-winning actress.

Paul Newman

Paul Newman is one of Golden Hollywood’s most iconic figures. The Academy Award-winning actor and director was born to an affluent Jewish family on January 26, 1925, in Shaker Heights, Ohio. His first-ever acting debut was in a school production of “Robin Hood” when he was seven years old. He graduated from high school in 1943 and spent a brief time at Ohio University before he was left to enroll in the Navy during World War II.

Portrait of Paul Newman with red background
Paul Newman in 1965. (Photo Credit: Bettmann / Getty Images)

Following the war, Newman married his first wife, Jackie Witte, and began studying drama at Kenyon College. He also attended the Yale School of Drama for a year before heading to New York City to pursue acting full-time. While in New York, Newman picked up small television and on-stage roles while also studying at the acclaimed Actor’s Studio. There, he met another promising actor: Joanne Woodward.

After landing a contract with Warner Bros., Newman’s role as professional boxer Rocky Graziano in the 1956 biopic Somebody Up There Likes Me was his first major success in Hollywood. Other hits followed, including the role of Brick in Tennessee William’s Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958) alongside Elizabeth Taylor and Burl Ives.

Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman photographed to promote 'The Long Hot Summer'
Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman in a publicity portrait for the film, The Long Hot Summer, 1958. (Photo Credit: Silver Screen Collection / Getty Images)

While filming The Long Hot Summer in ’57, Newman finally reconnected with his old acting school crush (and now co-star) Joanne Woodward. The pair soon fell in love, and after Newman divorced his first wife, he married Woodward in Las Vegas in 1958. The rest is history.

Joanne Woodward

Joanne Woodward was born in Thomasville, Georgia on February 27, 1930. Like her husband, Woodward also started acting at a young age. After attending the Actors Studio in New York City, Woodward starred in her first major film Count Three and Pray in 1955. In 1957, she took on a new challenge as the lead in The Three Faces of Eve. The film follows a housewife with multiple personality disorder, and Woodward’s performance included three distinct characters: Eve White, Eve Black, and Jane – all played by one person. Her work won her the Academy Award for Best Actress.

Joanne Woodward in 1955
Joanne Woodward sits on the set of the CBS-TV show Playhouse 90 circa 1955. (Photo Credit: Darlene Hammond / Hulton Archive / Getty Images)

Newman and Woodward share three daughters together and were largely considered to be Hollywood’s golden couple – even though much of their private life was kept under wraps.

New memoir leaves nothing to the imagination

A 2022 posthumous memoir about Paul Newman’s life, titled The Extraordinary Life of An Ordinary Man, has revealed one of the more private parts of Newman and Woodward’s romance. In the memoir that was penned by Newman himself, he describes the “animalistic passion” he and his wife shared for each other. The scintillating divulgence was collected from recordings done by Newman in the ’80s as part of the memoir, with the goal of being “completely honest.”

Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward at an Oscars event in 1958
Joanne Woodward holds her Oscar for Best Actress while sitting next to husband Paul Newman. (Photo Credit: Darlene Hammond / Hulton Archive / Getty Images)

“Joanne gave birth to a sexual creature,” reads an excerpt published in Vanity Fair. “We left a trail of lust all over the place. Hotels and public parks and Hertz-Rent-A-Cars” Newman revealed. He describes coming home one day to find his wife had created a designated “pleasure den” in their home.

According to Jezebel, Newman recounted the “pleasure den” story in his own words: “It had been done with such affection and delight. Even if my kids came over, we’d go into the [room] several nights a week and just be intimate and noisy and ribald.” Hopefully, for his children’s sake, the pleasure den was also soundproof!

Highly anticipated biopic

Paul Newman photographs his wife Joanne Woodward
Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward in their Greenwich Village apartment, circa 1961. (Photo Credit: A Louis Goldman / Photo Researchers History / Getty Images)

A new HBO Max documentary from actor and director Ethan Hawke titled The Last Movie Stars plots the highs and lows of Newman and Woodward’s relationship.

Using the same recordings that were made by Newman for his memoir, a project which was ultimately thrown out and the tapes destroyed (only transcripts remain), Hawke wanted to bring one of Hollywood’s biggest stars to life using acclaimed actors including George Clooney as Paul Newman and Laura Linney as Joanne Woodward.

What happened to Newman and Woodward?

Woodward and Newman attend an event in 2005
Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman during The Second Annual Barretstown New York City Gala at Essex House in New York City, 2005. (Photo Credit: James Devaney / WireImage / Getty Images)

Both Newman and Woodward continued to act well into the 1980s. After Newman’s loss of his son Scott to a drug overdose, he started his own center for drug abuse prevention and created the iconic “Newman’s Own” food brand, which donates all proceeds to charity.

A year after announcing his formal retirement from acting in 2007, Paul Newman died from cancer at the age of 83 on September 26, 2008, in the presence of his family and loved ones, including his wife Joanne. At 92, Woodward is still going strong today!

The bed from their ‘pleasure den’ was auctioned

Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward in bed together while shooting a scene from 'From The Terrace' in 1960
Paul Newman as David Alfred Eaton and Joanne Woodward as Mary St. John in ‘From The Terrace,’ directed by Mark Robson, 1960. (Photo Credit: Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)

In 2023, Sotheby’s announced it would be including the much-used cast brass and iron bed from Newman and Woodward’s intimate retreat in an auction titled “The World of Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman.” The bed was expected to sell for $500 to $1,000 but ended up fetching $8,890.

More from us: The Tragic Tales Of Elizabeth Taylor’s 8 Marriages

In addition to this unique item, the auction included over 300 individual pieces that once belonged to the famous couple. Among these items were several erotic books acquired by Newman and Woodward after their marriage, props from films they appeared in, personal scripts with handwritten notes, and political memorabilia.

Elisabeth Edwards

Elisabeth Edwards is a public historian and history content writer. After completing her Master’s in Public History at Western University in Ontario, Canada Elisabeth has shared her passion for history as a researcher, interpreter, and volunteer at local heritage organizations.

She also helps make history fun and accessible with her podcast The Digital Dust Podcast, which covers topics on everything from art history to grad school.

In her spare time, you can find her camping, hiking, and exploring new places. Elisabeth is especially thrilled to share a love of history with readers who enjoy learning something new every day!

The Digital Dust Podcast