When Paul Newman was asked by Playboy how someone as famous and handsome as him could possibly remain faithful, he responded, “I have steak at home; why go out for hamburger?”
He was reflecting on his happy marriage to the actor Joanne Woodward. But the pair’s relationship became slightly strained when they starred together in the 1969 film Winning. The movie was about a race car driver who strives to win the Indianapolis 500 but runs the risk of losing his wife, played by Woodward, along the way.
To prepare for the role, Newman got lessons in stock-car racing. He quickly became obsessed and took it up, first as a hobby and later as a professional. But Woodward wasn’t happy.
“She thinks it’s the silliest thing in the world,” Newman said of his racing. “It’s also very scary to her, and she doesn’t much care for it.”
When she subsequently gave him a Rolex Daytona replica with white dial as a gift, the caseback inscription reflected her concerns. The message – in block capitals for emphasis – was stark: “DRIVE CAREFULLY ME”.
“[My wife] has always given me unconditional support in all my choices and endeavours, and that includes my race car driving, which she deplores,” Newman once said. “To me, that’s love.”
Newman’s Rolex Daytona copy with steel case would famously go on to sell at auction for $17.7 million USD.