Classics in the Carolinas: Joanne Woodward

  This fall, Comet Over Hollywood is doing a mini-series of “Classics in the Carolinas.” I’ll be spotlighting classic movie related topics in South Carolina (my home state) and North Carolina (where I currently live and work).

In 1942, someone very important graduated from Greenville High School, in Greenville, S.C.: my grandfather, Henry E. Vogel.

Joanne Woodward with her Oscar for “Three Faces of Eve” in 1958.

But another important figure graduated from Greenville High School: Joanne Woodward.

Woodward won an Academy Award for playing a woman who suffers from multiple personality disorder in “The Three Faces of Eve” (1957). But in real life, she was the envy of women everywhere as the wife of Paul Newman.

Originally born in Thomasville, Georgia in 1930, Woodward moved to Greenville, S.C., where my family has lived for 14 years, after her parents divorced. A teenager when they moved, Woodward started at Greenville High School as a sophomore and graduated in 1947.

While at Greenville High School she was beauty queen several times, “Sweetheart of 1947” her senior year, nominated “Best Looking” and a member of the cafeteria club, said classmate Catherine Tate in an interview. Woodward also attended Christ Episcopal Church in Greenville.

As a high school student, Woodward also performed in “I Remember Mama,” “The Glass Menagerie” and “Inherit the Wind” with the Greenville Little Theater. She returned to Greenville in 1975 to perform “The Glass Menagerie” with the Greenville Little Theater, refusing a formal driver and was the “same Joanne,” Tate said.

“I don’t know what Joanne Woodward’s ambitions are, but she was a born actress,” said one Greenville Critic in an article about “I Remember Mama” in 1946.

Woodward wanted to go to Clemson University, a South Carolina state college 45 minutes away from Greenville, like her brothers but the college was still an all-male military college at the time. (I wasn’t able to find this story confirmed anywhere, but have always been told that. My family is big Clemson fans, with my parents, sisters, great-grandfather and grandfather attending and my other grandfather holding the position of Dean of Science at the university.)

Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward in 1955

Woodward went to Lousiana State University where she studied drama and then continued on to New York where she found work in plays and on television. Early in both of their careers, Woodward met Paul Newman. Newman was married at the time, but he eventually divorced and the two were married in 1958 until his death in 2008.

In 1992, Newman donated $50,000 to Clemson University in honor of his father-in-law, Wade Woodward, Jr. who graduated from Clemson in 1922. The money went towards the Green Room at the Brooks Center of Performing Arts, according to a January 1992 Associated Press article.

Woodward is currently living in Connecticut, since Paul Newman passed away in 2008.

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