Melissa Newman to Launch New Book on Her Iconic Parents at The Westport Library

Mon, Oct 9, 2023
EJ Crawford

L to R: The book cover for Head Over Heels; Melissa Newman

The Newman family is a Westport institution, and fittingly, the latest chronicle by and about the family will get its unveiling in their hometown.

Westport's own Melissa Newman will celebrate the launch of her extraordinary new book, Head Over Heels: Joanne Woodward & Paul Newman, A Love Affair in Words and Pictures, in The Westport Library's Trefz Forum on Tuesday, October 10. She will be in conversation with longtime friend and filmmaker Doug Tirola, sharing insights into her affectionately curated and lushly illustrated book, which offers a fresh perspective on her parents, both storied legends, putting their relationship front and center.

The event kicks off at 7 pm ET; please click here to register. The event is free to attend. Copies of Head Over Heels will be on sale, with Newman signing copies after her talk.

“Music, visual art, and drama have always been a big part of the family DNA,” Melissa said. “It’s been fascinating, certainly, to be an insider to my parents’ artistic process as well as the nuances of their relationship. The two things are inexorably intertwined. The more I thought about it, the more I felt the photographs and writings in this book needed to be collected and sent into the world in a particular way, and that perhaps I brought enough of a distinct perspective to make something unique.”

Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman, longtime Westport residents, were most famous as movie stars and stage actors, but they also were artistic collaborators, political activists, and philanthropists whose legacies are expansive and enduringly modern. 

With 120-plus photos of the couple together, including many that have never been published, Head Over Heels celebrates the enduring power of love. It features handwritten notes, snapshots, letters, and family treasures — offering revelatory and intimate insights into the private lives of these towering figures in American public life.

“I wanted to capture some of the layers, the humor, the beauty and complexity of their 50-year love affair,” Melissa Newman said. “I wanted it to feel immersive, the way I think they were immersed in each other. Once I began this journey, I was gobsmacked by the list of photographers who chronicled them. I tried to include not only unseen material, but also some of the less obvious choices from familiar series. 

“My friend, co-creator, and editor Andrew Kelly was a sleuth of the highest order. We let the images lead us, reveling in unexpected visual and textual juxtapositions. Together we pared away until we felt we had something we felt was worthy of them.”

Primarily an artist and jazz vocalist, Melissa is also a writer and a third-generation teacher whose eclectic career has included singing jingles, teaching in a women’s correctional facility, and leading art and vocal workshops. As a visual artist she has designed everything from packaging to theater posters to tattoos. She continues to perform regularly with her jazz trio and quartet.

Tirola, also a Westport resident, is an American filmmaker and writer who has worked as a director and executive producer. He is the owner and president of 4th Row Films, a movie and television production company.


About the Event:

Book Launch: ‘Head Over Heels: Joanne Woodward & Paul Newman, A Love Affair in Words and Pictures’

Tuesday, October 10

7 pm

Westport Library, Trefz Forum

Register (seats are limited)

More information

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