In the wedding portrait, a radiant Jennifer Warren (B.A.’63, Art History) wears a flower lace gown and a modest string of pearls as she stands next to her equally resplendent bridegroom, the tuxedo-clad matinee idol Paul Newman.
But the couple (notwithstanding Newman’s lengthy marriage to actress Joanne Woodward) couldn’t be found on any gift registry. That’s because the photo was taken for the 1977 film Slap Shot, the cult-favorite hockey comedy in which Newman and Warren play the estranged Reggie and Francine Dunlop, he a player-coach for the woeful Charlestown Chiefs. Fed up with Reggie’s raffish ways, Francine, in the shadow of the then-roiling women’s liberation movement, leaves her husband for parts unknown.
Warren laughs about it today.
“Not only was I married to Paul Newman, but I chose to leave him,” she says, acknowledging her costar’s sexual magnetism and widely acknowledged reputation as a real-life good guy. “Now, that’s acting!”
Today at 75, Warren’s ongoing work is no act. That path out of the fictional Charlestown, it turns out, led her to a different calling. She is the founder and chair of the Alliance of Women Directors, a 20-year-old nonprofit in Los Angeles that has confronted — patiently and persistently — a calcified Hollywood reality: of the top 100 films released in 2016, women directed only 4 percent; women directed 17 percent of all TV episodes in 2015–16.
The Alliance, which offers regular tradecraft workshops and mentorship opportunities, serves as a central gathering place for women trying to break through the so-called celluloid ceiling. That Warren is leading the charge is no surprise to those who know her.
Read more in On Wisconsin Magazine.