The Last Movie Stars Chapter 6 concludes the series in an intimate and personal way.
Classic Hollywood movie stars Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward shared a rare kind of love story, and viewers have learned a lot about it during The Last Movie Stars. The sixth and final episode of this series concludes by covering the 1980s through to Newman’s death in 2008. Acting may have made them famous, but the couple had more than their films to fill their lives. The participation of their children and grandchildren in this series illustrates that more than anything else could.
Newman and Woodward have settled into legendary status in the public consciousness, and this series has humanized them beautifully. The Last Movie Stars Chapter 6 is only the final piece of an intimate and touching story.
After actors pass a certain age, especially women (UGH), the roles slow down. Even if you are Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward. Newman reprised his role as Eddie Felson from The Hustler for Martin Scorsese in The Color of Money and finally won a competitive Oscar. After that, lead roles were fewer.
Woodward pivoted more toward television, elevating material and winning Emmys along the way. She also became the director of a theater company. This change in their careers allowed for a new venture: They started the Newman’s Own company.
You’ve probably seen Newman’s Own products in the store, like the salad dressing and popcorn. This business is different from all the celebrity brands today. All the profits go to fund charitable works for children.
Yes, ALL of the profits.
One early thing they funded was the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp in Connecticut, where seriously ill children could have fun experiences, totally free. (The name is a reference to Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.)
Now, millions of dollars go to charities each year. I’m old enough to remember jokes about Newman’s image being plastered all over a lot of products. But I think this legacy is something to be proud of, right alongside his films. I loved when David Letterman revealed to director Ethan Hawke how emotional he was when he saw the camp. That’s what it’s all about.
All of Newman and Woodward’s performances are preserved in the memory of everyone who watched them. Their successful marriage is something else people will always remember about them, and The Last Movie Stars has truly shown what an accomplishment that was. There were difficulties, but they did the work.
The details about their vow renewal during this period are so wonderful, particularly the words of Joanne’s stepmom. Joanne talks in an interview about how she and Paul “grew up together” as a reason why their marriage worked. After watching this series, you understand what she meant. One of their daughters talks about the inspiration she felt from her parents’ relationship, and that’s a heartwarming moment too.
The natural stopping point for this series is when Newman passed away from lung cancer in 2008. Woodward had already been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease at this time, as well. In Chapter 6, Hawke mentions that before Paul went to the hospital for the last time, he hid his well-used compass in Joanne’s stocking so that she would have a present for her first Christmas without him. If you are not sobbing at this, I don’t know what to say. Especially when you remember that Woodward is still alive at 92.
Hawke made the choice to have actors perform the transcripts for a memoir Paul started in the 1980s, and it turned out to be more than an innovative format for this series. The Last Movie Stars Chapter 6 is more personal and intimate because of it. Get inspired to watch Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward’s films, and find a remarkable love story of your own, maybe.
Just know that The Last Movie Stars is a superb viewing experience.
The Last Movie Stars is streaming on HBO Max.