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Joanne Woodward on TV: How Her Star Power Went Beyond the Big Screen

By    |   Thursday, 14 May 2015 09:36 AM

Joanne Woodward is perhaps best known for her Oscar-winning performance in “The Three Faces of Eve,” in which she played a woman struggling with multiple personalities. However, that was not the only medium she mastered.

In fact, she made several television appearances as a young actress and Woodward continued to work in TV and earn accolades for these performances later into her career.

Here are four times when Joanne Woodward’s star shone as bright on TV as it did on the big screen.

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1. Maggie, “Breathing Lessons” (1994)

Woodward starred alongside James Garner as husband and wife in this Hallmark Hall of Fame adaptation of Anne Tyler’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name. Variety writer Roberta Bernstein said Woodward played Maggie “as if she were a force of nature.”

In the movie, Woodward stars as a meddlesome wife and mother on her way to a funeral with her husband of 28 years. As the couple’s story is gradually revealed, the viewer learns not only about their marriage, but also about the marital drama of their son and former daughter-in-law.

2. Nell Harrington, “Blind Spot” (1993)
In another Hallmark Hall of Fame production, Woodward portrays an ambitious Washington congresswoman who’s also a domineering mother. While in the middle of a campaign, she finds her world shattered by a series of personal crises and revelations. Writing in the Los Angeles Times, Ray Loynd describes Woodward’s performance as “withering.”

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3. Betty Quinn, “See How She Runs” (1978)
Woodward won her first Emmy for her portrayal of a divorced teacher and mother in her 40s who finds new meaning in her life by training for and running the Boston Marathon. She starred alongside daughter Lissy, who made her acting debut in the film.People magazine notes that for this TV role, Woodward trained for three months so she could run the marathon herself instead of using a double.

4. Barbara Hollis, “Do You Remember Love?” (1985)

Woodward won her second Emmy for her portrayal of a college professor and poet diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Writing in The New York Times, John J. O’Connor praised Woodward for showing an “incredible range of emotional colors” but always staying true to the character’s “fierce intelligence.” Her performance is even more stirring when you consider that her own mother suffered from the disease.

5. Dr. Cornelia Wilbur, “Sybil” (1976)
In the TV miniseries based on Flora Reiter Schreiber’s 1973 book of the same name, Woodward portrayed a compassionate and dedicated therapist trying to help a young patient (Sally Field) claiming to suffer from multiple personalities. Woodward earned her first Emmy nomination in this award-winning and groundbreaking film based on the true story of a young woman suffering the aftermath of child abuse and the psychiatrist who devoted herself to helping her patient recover.

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Joanne Woodward is perhaps best known for her Oscar-winning performance in "The Three Faces of Eve," in which she played a woman struggling with multiple personalities. However, that was not the only medium she mastered.
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