29 JANUARY 2008

The love story between screen legend Paul Newman and his actress wife Joanne Woodward has been one of Hollywood's most successful and long-lasting. This week the couple, who tied the knot in Las Vegas on January 29, 1958, celebrate their golden wedding anniversary after sharing half a century as man and wife.

Paul, the star of such classics as Cool Hand Luke and Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid, first met his future wife in 1953 when he was an aspiring actor working on a Broadway production of Picnic and she was an understudy. Although the hunky actor was already married - to first wife Jackie Witte, with whom he has a son and two daughters - he and Jackie were divorced and Paul went on to marry Joanne in the same year she was awarded an Oscar for The Three Faces Of Eve.

As a wedding gift to her the blue-eyed screen star added to Joanne's collection of sherry glasses with a silver cup inscribed: "So you wound up with Apollo. If he's sometimes hard to swallow, use this."

While their careers took off, the couple stayed away from Hollywood to raise their three daughters - Elinor, Melissa and Claire - in a converted barn in Westport, Connecticut. They appeared in ten feature films together, including Mr And Mrs Bridge, while Paul also directed or produced his wife in four movies, notably 1968's Oscar-nominated Rachel, Rachel.

Joanne, who turns 78 next month, once described being married to Paul as: "Being married to the most considerate, romantic man". Her 83-year-old spouse adds: "We are very, very different people and yet somehow we fed off those varied differences, and instead of separating us, it has made the whole bond a lot stronger."

"Joanne has always given me unconditional support in all my choices and endeavours, and that includes my race car driving, which she deplores. To me, that's love."

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The Oscar-winning actors seal their love with a kiss on their wedding day 50 years ago. The couple held their reception at El Rancho hotel in Las Vegas Photo: © Getty Images
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Paul, pictured with his wife in 2004, has said the key to their long-lasting marriage is their differences - which have made their bond stronger Photo: © Getty Images
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Photographed together in Paris in 1960, two years after their wedding, the couple were both at the beginning of hugely successful Hollywood careers Photo: © Rex