A Hollywood fantasy of a perfect marriage was the aura bestowed on Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward’s fifty year journey of bliss together until his death in 2008. Scratch the celluloid image and what emerges is a more realistic picture of his alcoholism and her resentment at having her superior talent downgraded to a secondary role as mother and wife.
Actor/director Ethan Hawke has compiled a six part bio-doc, “The Last Movie-Stars” based on material assembled from an unpublished memoir of Newman’s at the insistence of the children who wanted their mother’s contribution and sacrifice made clear. Joanne Woodward is still alive but suffering from Alzheimers.
They were two of the last surviving members of the Lee Strasberg-trained generation, who had full lives apart from acting with his race car driving, her intellectual pursuits and both of their philanthropic activities which involved giving hundreds of millions of dollars away.
They married after Newman extricated himself with difficulty from an earlier marriage at a point where Joanne Woodward Woodward was the bigger, more respected star – “The Three Faces of Eve” and “The Fugitive Kind” – but that went onto the back burner with her marriage. In later years she said if she had her life over she wouldn’t have had children. It affected her career negatively but not his. She was also infuriated by Newman’s oft quoted comment on infidelity of why he would go out for hamburgers when he had steak at home – since it reduced her, she complained, to a lump of meat.
He was born 26 January 1925 6.30am Cleveland Heights, Ohio, and was a Sun Aquarius with a Pisces Moon. She was born 27 February 1930 4am Thomasville, GA, and was a Sun Venus in Pisces with an Aquarius Moon. Astrologically that is always described as the ideal cross over – Moon to the other’s Sun.
Both have filmic Neptune in the 8th which fits with the ability to project an iconic image. Though there are downsides as well. On the face of it they avoided the worst traps of an 8th house Neptune in financial mismanagement/deception and the inability to commit emotionally. There’s a suggestion from the doc series of a strong sexual connection which I can’t pin down, astrologically or what was inferred. Neptune can give the urge to merge completely but isn’t usually thought of as a lust-driven energy.
Newman had a fast-driving Mars in Aries in his 3rd. And he had a confident, charming Jupiter, Mercury, Venus in Capricorn opposition an intensely possessive 7th house Pluto which is where he’d get his penetrating and powerful charm from. He had a creative Water Grand Trine from a hard-working Saturn in Scorpio trine Uranus trine Pluto, formed into a Kite with lucky Venus, Jupiter, Mercury as the driving planets; though his Sun also squared Saturn giving him insecurities about his abilities.
Joanne Woodward was a charming and artistic Sun Venus in Pisces with the tough Saturn in Capricorn opposition Pluto square Uranus of that 1930 generation – used to hardship, innovative and forward thinking. Her creative, playful Jupiter in the 5th would give her the urge to perform and for all her protestations she would be good with children. Her focal point Jupiter squaring her Sun Venus as well as her Neptune would support her charitable drives and her social activism. She has two inconjuncts – Mars in Aquarius to Pluto and Jupiter to Saturn so she would have unresolved strains and tensions in her life.
Neither of their Moons are well integrated into their respective charts which would produce a sense of disconnection and vulnerability.
Their relationship chart had a composite Sun Moon conjunction which gives a feeling of more-whole-when-together; and with the New Moon opposition Neptune there would be disappointments but they fitted each other’s patterns. The composite Neptune is on the focal point of a Yod to Mercury sextile Uranus Jupiter – fated/meant to be together. A smidgeon of passion from Venus inconjunct Pluto and an energised Mars Jupiter close to a risk-taking Uranus – it wouldn’t be dull.
Their wedding chart from 29 January 1958 encapsulates the whole picture sublimely – the Sun close to Venus for affection opposition Uranus and square an ethereal Jupiter Neptune North Node. Well-designed for what became an almost mythical marriage. There was also an aggravated, irritable Mars Saturn conjunction which often occurs with a relationship where one partner has to sacrifice a good deal and that trines Pluto – so there was a dark underside of anger and resentment.
Ethan Hawke, 6 November 1970, is an unashamed fan of Newman’s and his Sun, Jupiter, Venus, Mercury in Scorpio fall on Newman’s Midheaven, 10th house and Saturn. Hawke also has an Aquarius Moon. So he resonates to much of Newman’s energy and career.
Having written astrologically about the Woodward/Newman marriage over the years it is fascinating and reassuring to have the real story brought out – since the astrology never described the apple-pie heaven that the gossip-magazine narrative reflected.