Denzel Washington’s Humble Beginnings: Couldn’t Afford Cab Fare on First Date with Wife, Pauletta

Denzel Washington credits his wife, Pauletta, for his rise to fame, but the humble beginnings of their love story might have led some women to call it quits.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – MAY 26: Denzel Washington attends the 2022 Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum Salute To Freedom Gala at Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum on May 26, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)

A Cheap Date?

On his first date with Pauletta, Denzel was unable to pay the cab fare, prompting Pauletta to step in and cover the cost.

The unique dating story recently resurfaced on social media, highlighting Denzel’s rise from tight times to living more than financially comfortably.

As Finurah previously reported, Denzel worked as a trash collector in his 20s, long before his big break into Hollywood. This job he has said in interviews taught him the values of hard work and humility, lessons that would serve him well throughout his career.

Reflecting on his early days, Denzel shared an endearing story with Jimmy Kimmel on a Valentine’s Day episode in 2017. He recounted his first date with Pauletta, a day he was modest.

The two seemed to have ventured out on a successful unspecified date, then things turned as Denzel was accompanying Pauletta home. As they rode in a cab, Denzel found himself fixated on the meter, the duration of the ride, and the looming cost, and it was clear he was financially struggling.

“I was gonna splurge and we were gonna take a cab … and the meter’s going and I’m going, ‘Uh-oh, how far away does she live…?’ She paid,” the actor told Kimmel.

It seems fate had a hand in bringing Pauletta, an actress, and Denzel Washington together, or perhaps it was sheer coincidence that they crossed paths as acquaintances on three separate occasions.

The couple first met in 1977 on the set of the TV movie “Wilma” during the production.

Pauletta would then meet Denzel at a party and later, the next day, see him at a play.

“A mutual friend, who was also in the movie, had thrown a party. And Denzel and his friends arrived at the end of it. We talked again,” Pauletta said on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” in 1996. “The night after, I attended a play. I arrived late, snuck in, and sat down,” Pauletta said. “I didn’t look who was around me. Then, at intermission, the lights came on and we were sitting next to each other.”

It was the beginning of a friendship that evolved into a marriage that has stood the test of time, now more than 40 years.

Denzel and Pauletta got married in 1983, and on their special day, so many people attended that the Washingtons ran out of food, Denzel told Kimmel.

“We were shaking so many hands, taking so many pictures, that they ran out of food… at the wedding … at the reception,” Denzel said. The actor then recalls that he and his wife went to a local diner to make up for the shortage of food at their wedding reception.

The couple share four children.

Throughout his career spanning decades, Denzel’s net worth is estimated to be between $280 million and $290 million, making him among Hollywood’s highest-paid actors, according to Banking Rates on Yahoo!

Although her net worth has yet to be confirmed by a trusted source, she has been active in her acting career. Pauletta has taken on television and made-for-TV movie roles in productions such as “She’s Gotta Have It,” “The Watsons Go to Birmingham,” and “The Parkers.”

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