Paul Newman


Actor, Director, Producer
Paul Newman

About

Also Known As
Paul Leonard Newman
Birth Place
Shaker Heights, Ohio
Born
January 26, 1925
Died
September 26, 2008

Biography

An iconic figure in Hollywood history, Paul Newman was an Academy Award-winning actor, acclaimed director, and noted philanthropist who helped define the male lead in motion pictures from the mid-1950s through the 21st century. His charm, intelligence and strength informed a wide variety of roles, from underdog boxer Rocky Graziano in "Somebody Up There Likes Me" (1955) and the damaged B...

Photos & Videos

The Hustler - Movie Poster
Cat On a Hot Tin Roof - Behind-the-Scenes Photos
Harper - Movie Poster

Family & Companions

Jacqueline Witte
Wife
Actor. Married in December 1949; divorced in 1957.
Joanne Woodward
Wife
Actor. Married on January 28, 1958; met during the Broadway run of "Picnic" (c. 1953); Newman was starring in the play, Woodward was an understudy.

Bibliography

"Paul Newman"
Lawrence Quirk, Taylor (1997)
"Paul Newman"
Eric Lax, Turner Publishing (1996)
"Paul and Joanne: A Biography of Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward"
Joe Morella and Edward Z. Epstein, Delacorte (1989)
"Paul Newman"
Elena Oumano, St. Martin's Press (1989)

Notes

"I had no natural gift to be anything--not an athlete, not an actor, not a writer, not a director, a painter of garden porches--not anything. So I've worked really hard, because nothing ever came easily to me." --Paul Newman to Daily News, June 10, 1991

Awarded the Harvard University's Hasty Pudding Theatrical's Man of the Year Award in 1968.

Biography

An iconic figure in Hollywood history, Paul Newman was an Academy Award-winning actor, acclaimed director, and noted philanthropist who helped define the male lead in motion pictures from the mid-1950s through the 21st century. His charm, intelligence and strength informed a wide variety of roles, from underdog boxer Rocky Graziano in "Somebody Up There Likes Me" (1955) and the damaged Brick in "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" (1958), to roguish antiheros like "Harper" (1966), "Cool Hand Luke" (1967) and Butch Cassidy in "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" (1969) – the latter of which showcased his famed partnership with Robert Redford. The two reprised their onscreen chemistry to great effect with the caper classic "The Sting" (1973). Of course, Newman was also admired for his 50-year marriage to actress Joanne Woodward, a rarity among Hollywood couples for its duration and lack of drama. He earned Oscar nominations for his roles in "Absence of Malice" (1981) and "The Verdict" (1982), finally winning for his turn as pool hall hustler Fast Eddie Felson in "The Color of Money" (1986). Newman’s career slowed to a crawl following "The Hudsucker Proxy" (1994) and "Nobody’s Fool" (1994) in favor of his philanthropic efforts through his Newman’s Own brand of foods, which brought $300 million to educational charities. After earning praise for "Road to Perdition" (2002) and an Emmy for "Empire Falls" (HBO, 2005), Newman privately battled cancer until succumbing in 2008, leaving behind a legacy as one of the greatest screen icons of all time.

Born Paul Leonard Newman in the Shaker Heights suburb of Cleveland, OH, on Jan. 26, 1925, he was the son of an affluent Jewish family who owned a sporting goods store. His interest in acting bloomed at an early age, thanks to his mother and uncle. He made his debut in a school production of "Robin Hood" at the age of seven. He graduated from high school in 1943 and spent three years at Ohio University, but was expelled before serving in the Navy during World War II as a radio operator. He returned to civilian life and earned his degree from Kenyon College in Ohio, with his intention being to study economics, but drama exhibited a stronger pull. In 1949, he married Jackie Witte, with whom he had three children – son Scott and daughters Stephanie and Susan. A brief return to Shaker Heights to run his family's store after his father's death in 1950 lend to feelings of discontentment, so he packed up his wife and children and relocated to New Haven, CT, where he enrolled in the Yale Drama School. Agents caught wind of his talent at a production there, and invited him to join the teeming throngs of actors seeking work in New York City.

Supporting roles in live television and plays followed, which eventually led to his Broadway debut in William Inge's "Picnic" in 1953. While there, he also continued his studies at the acclaimed Actor's Studio, making the acquaintance of another up-and-coming actor, Joanne Woodward, who was serving as an understudy on "Picnic." Based on the strength of his performance in the Inge play, he was offered a contract with Warner Bros. and a starring role in a historical epic called "The Silver Chalice" (1955). The picture was critically dismissed. Newman considered it such a personal embarrassment that he later took out a full page ad in the Hollywood trades apologizing for his participation. During this period, he also auditioned opposite James Dean for the film "East of Eden" (1955), but the part went to Richard Davalos.

He returned to the stage in "The Desperate Hours," but earned a reprieve from the movies via "Somebody Up There Likes Me" (1956), an affecting biopic about fighter Rocky Graziano's tenacious life and career from director Robert Wise. The film and Newman garnered praise from the press, leading him to launch into a string of commercially and critically successful pictures that highlighted his expansive range of talent. First, in Arthur Penn's revisionist Western "The Left-Handed Gun" (1958), he was a imbecilic and murderous Billy the Kid, while he held his own as Tennessee Williams's fallen football hero Brick opposite Elizabeth Taylor and Burl Ives in a somewhat truncated version of "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" (1958), which earned him his first Academy Award nomination and the admiration of female fans the world over.

While shooting "The Long Hot Summer" (1958) – which earned him the Best Actor award at the Cannes Film Festival – in Louisiana, he became re-acquainted with Joanne Woodward, who was the film's female lead. The two soon fell in love, and after divorcing Jackie, Newman and Woodward were married in Las Vegas in 1958. The couple appeared in numerous films together and had three daughters, which they raised far from Hollywood in the affluent neighborhood of Westport, CT. Newman's film career continued to burn white-hot throughout the early 1960s; he first landed on Quigley Publications' list of top grossing stars in 1963 and would appear there 13 more times until 1986. His cheeky charm, good looks and magnetism made him a casting agent's first choice for flawed heroes in films like "Paris Blues" (1961), "The Hustler" (1961), as pool shark Fast Eddie Felson; "Sweet Bird of Youth" (1962), after Newman had starred in the original Broadway run in 1960; and "Hud" (1963). The latter picture and "The Hustler" earned him two more Academy Award nominations and enduring status as an icon of cool among young acting aspirants and film buffs for decades to follow.

Newman's star power carried him into the mid- and late-1960s with ease. He worked with Alfred Hitchcock on the thriller "Torn Curtain" (1966) and played some of his most memorable roles, including the detective Lew Archer, who was renamed for "Harper" (1966), an unbreakable Southern convict in "Cool Hand Luke" (1967), which brought him another Oscar nomination; and a charming version of the Western outlaw Butch Cassidy in the box office blockbuster "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" (1969), opposite his good friend Robert Redford. Newman also made his debut as a director in 1968 with "Rachel, Rachel," starring Woodward. Both his lead and the film earned Oscar nods, but his directorial effort only yielded a Golden Globe. Newman's political activism also came to the forefront during the late sixties, through tireless campaigning for Eugene McCarthy's 1968 presidential campaign. His association with McCarthy led to his being named on future President Richard Nixon's infamous "Opponents List;" Newman, who ranked No. 19 out of 20, later commented that his inclusion was among the proudest achievements of his career.

Newman's superstar status – he was the top-ranking box office star in 1969 and 1970 – allowed him to experiment with film roles during the 1970s, which led to quirky choices like "WUSA" (1970), "Sometimes a Great Notion" (1971), "Pocket Money" (1972), and "The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean" (1972), all of which he also produced through First Artists, a company he established with fellow stars Sidney Poitier and Barbra Streisand. Newman also served as producer on the quirky drama "They Might Be Giants" (1969) starring his wife, Woodward, and directed her and their daughter Elinor in the 1972 film version of "The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds." He also developed a passion for auto racing after training with professionals for the 1969 drama "Winning." By 1972, he was racing professionally and completed Le Mans' 24-hour competition in 1979. The love of the racetrack would never leave him. The 1970s also yielded two of Newman's biggest hits: "The Sting" (1973), which reunited him with Redford, and "The Towering Inferno" (1974), which paired him with Steve McQueen for the first and only time. Newman also starred in the outrageous cult hit "Slap Shot" (1976) as an aging hockey star who coaches a farm team of misfits, and made two films with Robert Altman – "Buffalo Bill and the Indians" (1976) and the bizarre apocalyptic drama "Quintet" (1979) – neither of which boosted the director's fading career.

In 1978, Newman lost his son Scott to drug addiction. Due to his tragic lose, he curtailed his film career for much of the late-'70s, establishing the Scott Newman Center for Drug Abuse Prevention, while joining Woodward in passionate anti-drug campaigning. But by the early 1980s, Newman returned to filmmaking in several well-chosen projects that showcased his matured but undiminished skills. He was a beat cop caught between street violence and corrupt fellow officers in the violent "Fort Apache The Bronx" (1981), the son of a deceased crime figure who finds himself the focus of a dogged journalist's investigation in Sydney Pollack's "Absence of Malice" (1981), and a down-and-out lawyer who earns a chance at redemption in Sidney Lumet's "The Verdict," which brought another Academy Award nomination. The Cecil B. DeMille Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Hollywood Foreign Press followed in 1984.

With the help of writer A.E. Hotchner, in 1982, he launched Newman's Own, a line of food products that donated all proceeds after taxes to charity. The brand bloomed largely with its first release of salad dressing, but eventually included everything from salsa and lemonade to popcorn. Four years later, he established the Hole-in-the-Wall Gang Camp – named after Butch and Sundance's gang in "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" – in his home state of Connecticut. The camp, which served as a year-round retreat and center for seriously ill children, operated entirely on outsider contributions and Newman's own tireless campaigning. Less philanthropic but no less dear to the actor's heart was the Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing auto team, which he co-founded in 1983. For his charitable efforts, Newman was awarded the Jean Hersholt Award in 1994.

In 1986, Newman won a special Oscar for his numerous "compelling screen performances." That same year, he returned to one of his most famous roles – that of Fast Eddie Felson from "The Hustler" – in a sequel by Martin Scorsese called "The Color of Money." Newman's performance all but eclipsed up-and-comer Tom Cruise, leading him to collect his second Oscar in 1987. A brief return to regular film appearances followed, including turns in the atomic war drama "Fat Man and Little Boy" (1989), as colorful Southern governor Earl Long in "Blaze" (1989), and a pairing with Woodward as the heads of a conservative family in "Mr. and Mrs. Bridge" (1990) for James Ivory and Ismail Merchant.

Newman announced that he would retire from acting in 1995, though that statement proved short-lived. His gruff humor enjoyed a fine spotlight in the Coen Brothers' quirky 1950s-era comedy "The Hudsucker Proxy" (1994), and he earned another Oscar nomination as a likable if flawed small town handyman who gets a chance to rebuild a relationship with his son in "Nobody's Fool" (1995). "Twilight" (1998) surrounded Newman with such stellar peers as Gene Hackman, Susan Sarandon, and James Garner, in a mystery-drama about infidelity and aging, while he provided much needed gravity to the frothy romance "Message in a Bottle" (1999) and showed he had lost none of his sex appeal opposite Linda Fiorentino in the quirky comedy caper, "Where the Money Is" (2000). Two years later, he earned his first Oscar nomination for Supporting Actor as an Irish crime boss in "The Road to Perdition" (2002). Newman also became the oldest driver on a winning team when he participated in the 24 Hours of Daytona endurance race in 1995.

In 2002, Newman returned to the stage after a 35-year absence to play the stage manager in a production of "Our Town" for the Westport Players (Woodward was the troupe's artistic director). The show quickly transferred to Broadway, with Newman earning a Tony for his performance, as well as an Emmy for the 2003 broadcast of the show on PBS. Two years later, he took home the trophy, as well as a Golden Globe, for his turn as the cantankerous ne'er-do-well father of Ed Harris in the acclaimed HBO miniseries "Empire Falls" (2005). And he lent his gravely tones to the Pixar-animated feature "Cars" (2006), as Doc Hudson, the former racing champ who helps train Lightning McQueen (voiced by Owen Wilson), as well as the documentary "Dale" (2007), about the late racing champion Dale Earnhardt.

In 2007, Newman announced that he was retiring in May of that year, citing that he felt he was no longer able to perform at a level that pleased him. However, his charitable work continued unabated that year, with the actor donating $10 million to his alma mater, Kenyon College. It was later revealed that throughout 2005 and 2006, Newman quietly divested himself of his entire ownership in Newman's Own, donating the money to his foundation, which totaled a whopping $120 million. Meanwhile, Newman expanded on his retirement when he stepped down as director of John Steinbeck's "Of Mice and Men" for the Westport Country Playhouse in Westport, CT, citing unspecified health issues. Although it was rumored that the legend was suffering from cancer, nothing official was stated by his camp. Sadly, the rumors turned out to be true when, on Sept. 26, 2008, Newman succumbed to the disease at age 83, surrounded by family and close friends at his home in Westport.

Filmography

 

Director (Feature Film)

The Glass Menagerie (1987)
Director
Harry & Son (1984)
Director
Shadow Box (1980)
Director
The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds (1972)
Director
Sometimes a Great Notion (1971)
Director
Rachel, Rachel (1968)
Director

Cast (Feature Film)

Cars 3 (2017)
Voice
Winning: The Racing Life of Paul Newman (2015)
Himself
Meerkats (2009)
The Price of Sugar (2007)
Roving Mars (2006)
Narrator
Cars (2006)
Tell Them Who You Are (2004)
Himself
Road to Perdition (2002)
Where the Money Is (2000)
Message in a Bottle (1999)
Twilight (1998)
Super Speedway (1997)
Narrator
Inside the Academy Awards '95 (1995)
Performer
The Hudsucker Proxy (1994)
Nobody's Fool (1994)
Why Havel? (1991)
Himself
Mr. And Mrs. Bridge (1990)
Blaze (1989)
Fat Man and Little Boy (1989)
John Huston: The Man, The Movies, The Maverick (1988)
Himself
Hello Actors Studio (1987)
Himself
The Color of Money (1986)
Harry & Son (1984)
The Verdict (1982)
Fort Apache, The Bronx (1981)
Absence Of Malice (1981)
When Time Ran Out (1980)
Quintet (1979)
Essex
Slap Shot (1977)
Silent Movie (1976)
The Drowning Pool (1975)
The Towering Inferno (1974)
The Mackintosh Man (1973)
Rearden
The Sting (1973)
Henry Gondorff
The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean (1972)
Judge Roy Bean
Pocket Money (1972)
Jim Kane
Sometimes a Great Notion (1971)
Hank
King: A Filmed Record ... Montgomery to Memphis (1970)
WUSA (1970)
Rheinhardt
Winning (1969)
Frank Capua
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
Butch Cassidy [also known as Robert LeRoy Parker]
The Secret War of Harry Frigg (1968)
Harry Frigg
Cool Hand Luke (1967)
Luke Jackson
Hombre (1967)
John Russell
Torn Curtain (1966)
Prof. Michael Armstrong
Lady L (1966)
Armand
Harper (1966)
Lew Harper
What a Way To Go! (1964)
Larry Flint
The Outrage (1964)
Juan Carrasco
The Prize (1963)
Andrew Craig
Hud (1963)
Hud Bannon
A New Kind of Love (1963)
Steve Sherman
Hemingway's Adventures of a Young Man (1962)
The Battler
Sweet Bird of Youth (1962)
Chance Wayne
The Hustler (1961)
Eddie Felson
Paris Blues (1961)
Ram Bowen
From the Terrace (1960)
Alfred Eaton
Exodus (1960)
Ari Ben Canaan
Rally 'Round the Flag, Boys! (1959)
Harry Bannerman
The Young Philadelphians (1959)
Anthony Judson Lawrence
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958)
Brick Pollitt
The Left Handed Gun (1958)
Billy the Kid [William Bonney]
The Long, Hot Summer (1958)
Ben Quick
Until They Sail (1957)
Capt. Jack Harding
The Helen Morgan Story (1957)
Larry Maddux
Somebody Up There Likes Me (1956)
Rocky [Graziano, also known as Rocky Barbella]
The Rack (1956)
Capt. Edward W. Hall, Jr.
The Silver Chalice (1955)
Basil

Writer (Feature Film)

Harry & Son (1984)
Screenplay

Producer (Feature Film)

Harry & Son (1984)
Producer
The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean (1972)
Executive Producer
The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds (1972)
Producer
Sometimes a Great Notion (1971)
Producer
They Might Be Giants (1971)
Executive Producer
WUSA (1970)
Producer
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
Producer
Rachel, Rachel (1968)
Producer

Production Companies (Feature Film)

WUSA (1970)
Company
Rachel, Rachel (1968)
Company

Misc. Crew (Feature Film)

Cars (2006)
Consultant
Tell Them Who You Are (2004)
Other
Why Havel? (1991)
Other
John Huston: The Man, The Movies, The Maverick (1988)
Other
Hello Actors Studio (1987)
Other

Cast (Special)

Our Town (2003)
Robert Redford (2002)
Paul Newman - Bravo Profile (2001)
History vs. Hollywood (2001)
Robert Redford: Hollywood Outlaw (2000)
Robert Wagner: Hollywood's Prince Charming (1999)
Monica Mancini... On Record (1998)
Interviewee
The Hustons: Hollywood's Maverick Dynasty (1998)
Banned in America: The Stars Speak Out (1997)
The Universal Story (1996)
Himself
Paul Newman: Hollywood's Charming Rebel (1995)
The 67th Annual Academy Awards (1995)
Presenter
The Kennedy Center Honors: A Celebration of the Performing Arts (1995)
Performer
Gore Vidal's Gore Vidal (1995)
Jim Thorpe Pro Sports Awards (1994)
Performer
The 66th Annual Academy Awards Presentation (1994)
Performer
The Late Show with David Letterman Video Special (1994)
What Is This Thing Called Love? (1993)
The 64th Annual Academy Awards Presentation (1992)
Presenter
The Kennedy Center Honors: A Celebration of the Performing Arts (1992)
Miracle on 44th Street: A Portrait of the Actors Studio (1991)
Havel's Audience With History (1990)
Narrator
Sinatra 75: The Best Is Yet to Come (1990)
American Tribute to Vaclav Havel and a Celebration of Democracy in Czechoslovakia (1990)
Broadway Dreamers: The Legacy of the Group Theatre (1989)
The Valvoline National Driving Test (1989)
Ancient Forests: Rage Over Trees (1989)
Narration
The 60th Annual Academy Awards Presentation (1988)
Performer
Candid Camera: The First 40 Years (1987)
The 58th Annual Academy Awards Presentation (1986)
The American Film Institute Salute to John Huston (1983)
Performer
The Sensational, Shocking, Wonderful, Wacky '70s (1980)
American Ballet Theatre (1976)
Narration
Super Comedy Bowl 2 (1972)
Bang the Drum Slowly (1956)
Henry Wiggin

Cast (Short)

Distant Drummer: Flowers of Darkness (1972)
Narrator

Cast (TV Mini-Series)

Empire Falls (2005)

Producer (TV Mini-Series)

Empire Falls (2005)
Executive Producer

Articles

Film Comment: Paul Newman, Director


In 1959, Paul Newman saw Michael Strong perform Chekhov's one-act play On the Harmfulness of Tobacco at the Actors Studio in New York. Overwhelmed by Strong's performance, Newman resolved to preserve it on film. He shot a short movie of Strong's Chekhov monologue, using his own money, and the result was briefly shown in two theaters in 1962.

Newman's On the Harmfulness of Tobacco is carefully and sensitively shot in black-and-white using high-contrast lighting for close-ups of Strong, who is very naturalistic and very centered in his delivery. Strong does the kind of acting that was favored at the Actors Studio in this period: enclosed, private, mysterious. Newman shoots Strong's work lovingly and attentively, sometimes from low angles as if he were at Strong's feet and wanted to learn. Self-conscious about his extraordinary physical beauty, Newman longed for people to look past his Greek god surface as an actor, and this need to delve deeper is what animates his small body of work as a director as well.

In the six films that Newman directed after his little-known Chekhov short, he practiced the most subjective and intimate kind of cinema. He wanted to put you inside the heads of his characters and make you feel exactly what they were feeling. In his first directorial feature Rachel, Rachel (1968), Newman uses both the narration of private thoughts and visualized fantasies to make us experience what it's like to be Rachel Cameron (Joanne Woodward), a schoolteacher who lives with her demanding mother in a small town and is still a virgin at 35. The past and the present mingle together for Rachel, as if her life has never really gotten started. She is prim and arch and decent and polite, but her eyes get a hard look in them sometimes that signals her morbidity, her self-criticism, and her very repressed anger.

Woodward and Newman married in 1958 and stayed married for 50 years until his death in 2008. Woodward appears in five of his six credited films as director, and three of them serve as vehicles for her to show off her mature talent. Newman was making an impact as an actor playing glamorous losers like "Fast Eddie" Felson in The Hustler (1961) and martyrs like Cool Hand Luke (1967), but with his wife, he created films about very un-glamorous female losers like Rachel Cameron and the scabrous Beatrice in The Effects of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds (1972).

There is something feminine about Newman's screen losers and something masculine about Woodward's anti-heroines in Rachel, Rachel and Gamma Rays, both of whom have been left behind by life. But the conscientious Rachel earns our sympathy while the blunt, grueling Beatrice, whose habitual physical stance is that of a defensive Mafia hit man, can only garner revulsion and pity. Newman worked very closely with Woodward to create both Rachel and Beatrice. "We have the same acting vocabulary," Newman said after filming Rachel, Rachel. "I would tell her, while she was reading a line, 'pinch it' or 'thicken it,' and she knew just what I meant."

Rachel, Rachel stays very close to its source novel, Margaret Laurence's A Jest of God (1966), skipping only some of Rachel's more explicit sexual fantasies. Newman and Woodward are both willing to delve into unattractive and private emotions in the films they made together, but they are both creatively reticent when it comes to sexuality. Usually in a film like Rachel, Rachel we wait to see what flashy trauma from the past might make the main character worthy of our attention. But Rachel Cameron is ordinary even in what she suffers. And that choice feels more risky now than ever, even with Jerome Moross's memorably plaintive score bolstering Woodward's performance during some of Rachel's solitary walks.

There is a sense in Rachel, Rachel but particularly in Gamma Rays that Newman and Woodward are exploring the lives of Rachel and Beatrice without compromise and without any softening or leavening. The result is two films in which they both risk alienating their audience in order to hew as closely as possible to what they saw jointly as the hard truth about small, failed, and embattled lives. Woodward's very flinty, steamroller-like performance in Gamma Rays is not the sort of work likely to win much love, approval or admiration. But it does represent what so many players were striving for at the Actors Studio: unvarnished and often ugly personal truth.

Newman cast their daughter Nell as the young Rachel in Rachel, Rachel and as Beatrice's younger daughter in Gamma Rays, where she doesn't seem like a child actress but like an actual and very shy child staring with her piercing blue eyes at Woodward's yowling, freakish character. In moments of high stress in these two films, Newman puts his camera right in Woodward's face, so close sometimes when she cries in Rachel, Rachel that she goes out of focus. Newman's urge as a director always seems to be to dissolve the barriers between himself and the person he is looking at and also between the character and the woman who is his wife. These characters are carefully created and imagined, but Lee Strasberg always taught at the Actors Studio that actors needed to find themselves in the roles that they played.

Newman's honed his own work as an actor and steadily improved as he got older, so that by the time of Fort Apache, The Bronx (1981) and The Verdict (1982) he had burned through his earlier self-consciousness and found a deeper, more focused truth, the same deep truth that he so admired in Michael Strong's performance in Chekhov's one-act. Motivated by the spirit of preservation that had made him film Strong's tour-de-force, Newman directed a careful film of Tennessee Williams's The Glass Menagerie (1987) in order to capture Woodward's performance as Amanda Wingfield.

Like his earlier movies with Woodward, Newman's film of The Glass Menagerie seems to take place in a private space where actors can explore tough emotions without worrying about results. Newman's career as both actor and director is a body of work that most faithfully exemplifies the tenets of the Actors Studio in its 1950s and '60s heyday. The beautiful but uneasy student at the feet of Michael Strong in 1959 had by the 1980s become masterly himself.

By Dan Callahan


To read the article at Film Comment and explore the website, Click Here. To learn more about Film Comment magazine, please visit www.filmcomment.com and to subscribe go to www.filmcomment.com/subscribe-to-film-comment-magazine/.

Film Comment: Paul Newman, Director

Film Comment: Paul Newman, Director

In 1959, Paul Newman saw Michael Strong perform Chekhov's one-act play On the Harmfulness of Tobacco at the Actors Studio in New York. Overwhelmed by Strong's performance, Newman resolved to preserve it on film. He shot a short movie of Strong's Chekhov monologue, using his own money, and the result was briefly shown in two theaters in 1962. Newman's On the Harmfulness of Tobacco is carefully and sensitively shot in black-and-white using high-contrast lighting for close-ups of Strong, who is very naturalistic and very centered in his delivery. Strong does the kind of acting that was favored at the Actors Studio in this period: enclosed, private, mysterious. Newman shoots Strong's work lovingly and attentively, sometimes from low angles as if he were at Strong's feet and wanted to learn. Self-conscious about his extraordinary physical beauty, Newman longed for people to look past his Greek god surface as an actor, and this need to delve deeper is what animates his small body of work as a director as well. In the six films that Newman directed after his little-known Chekhov short, he practiced the most subjective and intimate kind of cinema. He wanted to put you inside the heads of his characters and make you feel exactly what they were feeling. In his first directorial feature Rachel, Rachel (1968), Newman uses both the narration of private thoughts and visualized fantasies to make us experience what it's like to be Rachel Cameron (Joanne Woodward), a schoolteacher who lives with her demanding mother in a small town and is still a virgin at 35. The past and the present mingle together for Rachel, as if her life has never really gotten started. She is prim and arch and decent and polite, but her eyes get a hard look in them sometimes that signals her morbidity, her self-criticism, and her very repressed anger. Woodward and Newman married in 1958 and stayed married for 50 years until his death in 2008. Woodward appears in five of his six credited films as director, and three of them serve as vehicles for her to show off her mature talent. Newman was making an impact as an actor playing glamorous losers like "Fast Eddie" Felson in The Hustler (1961) and martyrs like Cool Hand Luke (1967), but with his wife, he created films about very un-glamorous female losers like Rachel Cameron and the scabrous Beatrice in The Effects of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds (1972). There is something feminine about Newman's screen losers and something masculine about Woodward's anti-heroines in Rachel, Rachel and Gamma Rays, both of whom have been left behind by life. But the conscientious Rachel earns our sympathy while the blunt, grueling Beatrice, whose habitual physical stance is that of a defensive Mafia hit man, can only garner revulsion and pity. Newman worked very closely with Woodward to create both Rachel and Beatrice. "We have the same acting vocabulary," Newman said after filming Rachel, Rachel. "I would tell her, while she was reading a line, 'pinch it' or 'thicken it,' and she knew just what I meant." Rachel, Rachel stays very close to its source novel, Margaret Laurence's A Jest of God (1966), skipping only some of Rachel's more explicit sexual fantasies. Newman and Woodward are both willing to delve into unattractive and private emotions in the films they made together, but they are both creatively reticent when it comes to sexuality. Usually in a film like Rachel, Rachel we wait to see what flashy trauma from the past might make the main character worthy of our attention. But Rachel Cameron is ordinary even in what she suffers. And that choice feels more risky now than ever, even with Jerome Moross's memorably plaintive score bolstering Woodward's performance during some of Rachel's solitary walks. There is a sense in Rachel, Rachel but particularly in Gamma Rays that Newman and Woodward are exploring the lives of Rachel and Beatrice without compromise and without any softening or leavening. The result is two films in which they both risk alienating their audience in order to hew as closely as possible to what they saw jointly as the hard truth about small, failed, and embattled lives. Woodward's very flinty, steamroller-like performance in Gamma Rays is not the sort of work likely to win much love, approval or admiration. But it does represent what so many players were striving for at the Actors Studio: unvarnished and often ugly personal truth. Newman cast their daughter Nell as the young Rachel in Rachel, Rachel and as Beatrice's younger daughter in Gamma Rays, where she doesn't seem like a child actress but like an actual and very shy child staring with her piercing blue eyes at Woodward's yowling, freakish character. In moments of high stress in these two films, Newman puts his camera right in Woodward's face, so close sometimes when she cries in Rachel, Rachel that she goes out of focus. Newman's urge as a director always seems to be to dissolve the barriers between himself and the person he is looking at and also between the character and the woman who is his wife. These characters are carefully created and imagined, but Lee Strasberg always taught at the Actors Studio that actors needed to find themselves in the roles that they played. Newman's honed his own work as an actor and steadily improved as he got older, so that by the time of Fort Apache, The Bronx (1981) and The Verdict (1982) he had burned through his earlier self-consciousness and found a deeper, more focused truth, the same deep truth that he so admired in Michael Strong's performance in Chekhov's one-act. Motivated by the spirit of preservation that had made him film Strong's tour-de-force, Newman directed a careful film of Tennessee Williams's The Glass Menagerie (1987) in order to capture Woodward's performance as Amanda Wingfield. Like his earlier movies with Woodward, Newman's film of The Glass Menagerie seems to take place in a private space where actors can explore tough emotions without worrying about results. Newman's career as both actor and director is a body of work that most faithfully exemplifies the tenets of the Actors Studio in its 1950s and '60s heyday. The beautiful but uneasy student at the feet of Michael Strong in 1959 had by the 1980s become masterly himself. By Dan Callahan To read the article at Film Comment and explore the website, Click Here. To learn more about Film Comment magazine, please visit www.filmcomment.com and to subscribe go to www.filmcomment.com/subscribe-to-film-comment-magazine/.

Life Events

1943

Dropped from flight training (because he was color blind) and spent WWII as a US Naval Reserve radio operator

1950

Managed the family sporting goods business after his father's death

1952

TV-acting debut, "Kraft Television Theatre"

1953

Broadway theater debut in William Inge's "Picnic"; met future wife Joanne Woodward who was an understudy

1954

Film acting debut, "The Silver Chalice"

1955

Returned to Broadway in the thriller "The Desperate Hours"

1956

Breakout role as boxer Rocky Graziano in Robert Wise's "Somebody Up There Likes Me"

1958

Delivered sensational perfomance as Brick in Richard Brooks' adaptation of Tennessee Williams' "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof"; earned first Oscar nomination as Best Actor

1958

First film opposite Joanne Woodward, "The Long Hot Summer"; first collaboration with director Martin Ritt

1959

Returned to the stage playing Chance Wayne in Tennessee Williams' "Sweet Bird of Youth"

1961

Portrayed 'Fast' Eddie Felson opposite Jackie Gleason's 'Minnesota Fats' in Robert Rossen's "The Hustler"; earned second Best Actor Oscar nomination

1962

Reprised role in the film adaptation of "Sweet Bird of Youth"; second collaboration with director Brooks; earned third Oscar nomination

1963

Earned fourth Oscar nod for portraying the title role in Martin Ritt's "Hud"

1964

Last stage appearance for nearly four decades, the Off-Broadway play "Baby Wants a Kiss"

1966

Had title role of "Harper" a private eye

1966

Only collaboration with Alfred Hitchcock, "Torn Curtain"

1967

Starred in Stuart Rosenberg's "Cool Hand Luke" as hardboiled egg-eating convict; earned fifth Oscar nomination

1967

Sixth and final collaboration with director Ritt, "Hombre"

1968

Feature directing and producing debut, "Rachel, Rachel"; earned an Oscar nomination for directing

1969

Co-founded First Artists Production Company Ltd with Sidney Poitier, Steve McQueen, Barbra Streisand and others

1969

First film opposite Robert Redford, George Roy Hill's "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid"

1971

Directed (also co-executive produced and starred in) the screen version of Ken Kesey's novel "Sometimes a Great Notion"

1973

Reunited with Redford and director Hill for the Oscar-winning caper movie "The Sting"

1975

Reprised role as private eye Lew Harper in "The Drowning Pool"

1976

Played Buffalo Bill in Robert Altman's "Buffalo Bill and the Indians"

1977

Third and final film with George Roy Hill, the hockey comedy-drama "Slap Shot"

1979

TV directing debut, "The Shadow Box" (starring Woodward), received an Emmy nomination for directing

1979

Again collaborated with Robert Altman on "Quintet"

1981

Received first Oscar nomination in 14 years (since 1967) for "Absence of Malice"

1982

Portrayed a Boston lawyer who's hit bottom in Sidney Lumet's "The Verdict"; earned sixth Oscar nomination for acting

1984

Debut as co-screenwriter on "Harry and Son"

1986

Returned to the screen as 'Fast' Eddie Felson in Martin Scorsese's "The Color of Money"; won first Oscar for Best Actor

1987

Signed a three-year non-exclusive agreement with Walt Disney Pictures (January)

1987

Directed an adaptation of Williams' "The Glass Menagerie" featuring Joanne Woodward, John Malkovich, Karen Allen, and James Naughton

1990

Acted opposite Woodward in the Merchant-Ivory production "Mr & Mrs Bridge"

1994

Starred as the villain of the Coen Brothers' extravagent "The Hudsucker Proxy"

1994

Played the lead in "Nobody's Fool" adapted and directed by Robert Benton; earned seventh Oscar nomination

1998

Reteamed with Benton (director and co-screenwriter) for "Twilight"

1999

Made rare stage appearance in "Love Letters" alongside Joanne Woodward

1999

Portrayed Kevin Costner's father in "Message in a Bottle"

2000

Returned to the stage after more than four decades to co-star with Woodard in "Ancestral Voices"

2002

Co-starred with Tom Hanks in Sam Mendes' "The Road to Perdition"; earned Golden Globe and Oscar nominations

2003

Cast as the Stage Manager in the Showtime adaptation of "Our Town"; earned Emmy and SAG nominations

2005

Starred (also executived produced) in the HBO mini-series "Empire Falls" (lensed 2002), adapted and directed by Robert Benton

2006

Voiced Doc Hudson in the Pixar animated feature "Cars"

Photo Collections

The Hustler - Movie Poster
Here is an original release Half-Sheet movie poster for The Hustler (1961), starring Paul Newman and Jackie Gleason. Half-sheets measured 22 x 28 inches and usually featured different artwork from the movie's One-Sheet poster.
Cat On a Hot Tin Roof - Behind-the-Scenes Photos
Here are several photos taken behind-the-scenes during production of MGM's Cat On a Hot Tin Roof (1958), starring Paul Newman, Elizabeth Taylor, and Burl Ives, and directed by Richard Brooks.
Harper - Movie Poster
Harper - Movie Poster
The Hudsucker Proxy - Movie Poster
The Hudsucker Proxy - Movie Poster
Cool Hand Luke - Movie Posters
Here are a few original-release movie posters for Cool Hand Luke (1967), starring Paul Newman.
The Sting - Movie Posters
Here are a few variations of the one-sheet movie poster for The Sting (1973), starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford. One-sheets measured 27x41 inches, and were the poster style most commonly used in theaters.
Somebody Up There Likes Me - Behind-the-Scenes Photos
Here are a number of photos taken behind-the-scenes during production of MGM's Somebody Up There Likes Me (1956), starring Paul Newman and Pier Angeli, and directed by Robert Wise.
Sweet Bird of Youth - Publicity Stills
Here are some publicity stills taken for Sweet Bird of Youth (1962), starring Paul Newman and Shirley Knight. Publicity stills were specially-posed photos, usually taken off the set, for purposes of publicity or reference for promotional artwork.
Sweet Bird of Youth - Behind-the-Scenes Photos
Here are some photos taken behind-the-scenes during production of Sweet Bird of Youth (1962), starring Paul Newman and Geraldine Page, and directed by Richard Brooks.
Exodus - Movie Poster
Here is the American one-sheet movie poster (designed by Saul Bass) for Exodus (1960), produced and directed by Otto Preminger. One-sheets measured 27x41 inches, and were the poster style most commonly used in theaters.
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof - Movie Poster
Here is the American one-sheet movie poster for Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958). One-sheets measured 27x41 inches, and were the poster style most commonly used in theaters.
The Rack - Paul Newman Publicity Photos
Here are a few photos taken to help publicize Paul Newman in MGM's The Rack (1956). Publicity stills were specially-posed photos, usually taken off the set, for purposes of publicity or reference for promotional artwork.
The Long, Hot Summer - Movie Poster
Here is a Half-Sheet movie poster from Columbia Pictures' The Long, Hot Summer (1958), starring Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward.
The Outrage - Scene Stills
Here are a few scene stills from MGM's The Outrage (1964), directed by Martin Ritt and starring Paul Newman and Claire Bloom.
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid - Movie Posters
Here are a few original-release movie posters from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969), starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford.
Until They Sail - Behind-the-Scenes Photos
Here are some photos taken behind-the-scenes during production of MGM's Until They Sail (1957), starring Paul Newman and Jean Simmons and directed by Robert Wise.
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof - Movie Tie-In book
Here is the 1958 Signet Books movie tie-in edition of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof by Tennessee Williams.
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof - Pressbook
Here is the original campaign book (pressbook) for Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958). Pressbooks were sent to exhibitors and theater owners to aid them in publicizing the film's run in their theater.
Hud - Movie Poster
Here is the American One-Sheet Movie Poster for Hud (1963). One-sheets measured 27x41 inches, and were the poster style most commonly used in theaters.

Videos

Movie Clip

Buffalo Bill And The Indians (1976) - Everything Historical Is Yours Amid the continuous rehearsal, first appearance by Burt Lancaster as Ned Buntline, Joel Grey as producer Salisbury, Geraldine Chaplin as Annie Oakley, John Considine her husband and manager, Harvey Keitel the nephew of the title character, Kevin McCarthy as Major Burke, and Paul Newman heard but not seen, in Robert Altman’s Buffalo Bill And The Indians Or , Sitting Bull's History Lesson, 1976.
Cat On A Hot Tin Roof (1958) - We Occupy the Same Cage The drunk and injured Brick (Paul Newman) rejects his wife Maggie (Elizabeth Taylor) in director Richard Brooks' Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, 1958, from the Tennessee Williams play.
Young Philadelphians, The (1959) - Some Kind Of Social Position Wrapping up the 1920’s prologue and introducing the star, Diana Brewster as widowed Philadelphian and new mom Kate, whose high-society husband died, possibly by suicide, on their wedding night, with the rough-hewn immigrant Mike (Brian Keith), who is the real father of her son Anthony, who grows up to be Paul Newman, in The Young Philadelphians, 1959.
Young Philadelphians, The (1959) - If You Brought A Shotgun... Respectable but poor Tony (Paul Newman), a semester short of finishing Princeton, and Joan (Barbara Rush), his affluent lovestruck girlfriend, have decided to elope but get intercepted by his long-widowed mother (Diane Brewster), and her high-powered lawyer father (John Williams), in The Young Philadelphians, 1959.
Young Philadelphians, The (1959) - I Always Used A Diagram Law student Tony, now cynical due to earlier setbacks, is spending the summer helping rich retiring lawyer Wharton (Otto Kruger) write a book, drawing all the attention of his young wife Carol (Alexis Smith), the three of them then receiving guests Carter and Joan (Fred Eisley, Barbara Rush), who was once, secretly, Tony’s fianceè, in The Young Philadelphians, 1959.
MacKintosh Man, The (1973) - Open, You See Before You A Villain A stately if simple opening from director John Huston, crossing the Thames to Parliament and finding James Mason as a Tory MP, Harry Andrews in the gallery, then star Paul Newman crossing Trafalgar Square, in The MacKintosh Man, 1973, also starring Dominique Sanda, from a novel by Desmond Bagley.
MacKintosh Man, The (1973) - Diamonds In The Mail Paul Newman has just entered an office off Trafalgar Square where exposition begins, as we learn he’s Rearden, who might be some sort of agent, greeted by Dominique Sanda as in-the-know office help Mrs. Smith and Harry Andrews as the title character, with oblique chat about crime, early in John Huston’s The MacKintosh Man, 1973.
MacKintosh Man, The (1973) - Anything In There For Me? Set up by earlier conversation, though we don’t exactly know his status or motivation, Paul Newman as agent Rearden, posing as an Aussie, with support from Dominique Sanda as “Mrs. Smith,” mugs a London postman (Eric Mason) for a package of diamonds, early in John Huston’s spy thriller The MacKintosh Man, 1973.
Buffalo Bill And The Indians (1976) - Open, This Piece Of Our History Identified as a Robert Altman opening, though hardly necessary, with Alan Rudolph's 90% original script (with a nod to a play by Arthur Kopit), shooting at the Stoney Indian Reservation in Alberta, with narration by Humphrey Gratz who plays the "old soldier," from Buffalo Bill And The Indians Or, Sitting Bull's History Lesson, 1976, starring Paul Newman, cinematography by Paul Lohmann.
Buffalo Bill And The Indians (1976) - The Last Thing A Man Wants To Do Director Robert Altman, after nearly 15 minutes, finally shows his star and title character, Paul Newman, on camera, in rehearsal for his Wild West Show, introduced by producer Joel Grey, with Harvey Keitel as his nephew and secretary, Geraldine Chaplin as Annie Oakley, John Considine her husband, in Buffalo Bill And The Indians, 1976.
Buffalo Bill And The Indians (1976) - Ain't All That Different From Real Life Paul Newman (title character), with his publicist (Kevin McCarthy, as “Arizona John Burke,” also a historical figure) insists on a staged greeting for his newly recruited Wild West Show co-star, at first mistaking interpreter Halsey (Will Sampson) for Sitting Bull (Frank Kaquitts), in Robert Altman’s Buffalo Bill And The Indians Or, Sitting Bull’s History Lesson, 1976.
Paris Blues (1961) - Open, Take The A Train "Take The A Train" is the number with Paul Newman and Sidney Poitier pretending to play in the opening to the pretty-much all Duke Ellington jazz movie Paris Blues, 1961, directed by Martin Ritt, also starring Joanne Woodward and Diahann Carroll.

Trailer

Slap Shot (1977) -- (Original Trailer) Original trailer for the violent, opinion-splitting sports comedy from director George Roy Hill, star Paul Newman and screenwriter Nancy Dowd, Slap Shot, 1977, co-starring Strother Martin, Lindsay Crouse and Michael Onktean.
Silent Movie - (Original Trailer) A film director struggles to produce a major silent feature film in Mel Brooks' Silent Movie (1976).
Rachel, Rachel - (Original Trailer) Paul Newman stepped behind the camera for the first time with Rachel, Rachel (1968) starring his wife Joanne Woodward.
Harper - (Original Trailer) A broken-down private eye (Paul Newman) sets out to find a rich woman's missing husband in Harper (1966).
Exodus - (Textless trailer) Paul Newman and Eva Marie Saint lead an all-star cast in Otto Preminger's epic about the formation of the modern state of Israel, Exodus (1960).
Drowning Pool, The - (Original Trailer) Paul Newman returns as detective Lew Harper when a threatening letter leads to murder in The Drowning Pool (1975).
Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean, The - (Original Trailer) Paul Newman stars as the Law West of the Pecos in John Huston's The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean (1972).
Rally Round the Flag, Boys! - (Black-and-white Trailer) Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward star in Leo McCarey's comedy Rally 'Round the Flag, Boys! (1959) about a suburban town disrupted by a missile base.
Helen Morgan Story, The - (Original Trailer) Ann Blyth portrays the 20's torch singer who rose to fame and fortune and lost it all in The Helen Morgan Story (1957).
Hudsucker Proxy, The - (Original Trailer) Tim Robbins plays a boob put in charge of a large corporation in the Coen Brothers' comedy The Hudsucker Proxy (1994).
Hud - (Re-issue Trailer) Patricia Neal and Melvyn Douglas both won Academy Awards for their performances in Hud (1963) starring Paul Newman.
Outrage, The - (Original Trailer) Paul Newman stars in Martin Ritt's 1964 Western remake of Akira Kurosawa's Rashomon (1950).

Promo

Family

Arthur S Newman
Father
Sporting goods businessman. Died on May 11, 1950 at age of 56; Jewish.
Theresa Newman
Mother
Catholic of Hungarian descent; converted to Christian Science.
Arthur S Newman Jr
Brother
Production manager, producer. Production manager on "Cool Hand Luke" and "Winning"; associate producer of "Rachel, Rachel".
Scott Newman
Son
Born in 1950; died from a mixture of alcohol and drugs on November 11, 1978 at age 28; mother, Jacqueline Witte.
Susan Newman
Daughter
Born in 1953; mother, Jacqueline Witte.
Stephanie Newman
Daughter
Born in 1954; mother, Jacqueline Witte.
Elinor Teresa Newman
Daughter
Food company executive. Born on April 8, 1959; mother, Joanne Woodward; runs Newman's Own Organics: Second Generation which produces organic pretzels in five varieties.
Melissa Steward Newman
Daughter
Singer. Born in September 1961; mother, Joanne Woodward; married to Raphael Elkind; gave birth to son Peter in May 1996.
Claire Olivia Newman
Daughter
Born in 1965; mother, Joanne Woodward.

Companions

Jacqueline Witte
Wife
Actor. Married in December 1949; divorced in 1957.
Joanne Woodward
Wife
Actor. Married on January 28, 1958; met during the Broadway run of "Picnic" (c. 1953); Newman was starring in the play, Woodward was an understudy.

Bibliography

"Paul Newman"
Lawrence Quirk, Taylor (1997)
"Paul Newman"
Eric Lax, Turner Publishing (1996)
"Paul and Joanne: A Biography of Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward"
Joe Morella and Edward Z. Epstein, Delacorte (1989)
"Paul Newman"
Elena Oumano, St. Martin's Press (1989)
"Paul Newman"
Charles Hamblett, Henry Regnery Company (1975)

Notes

"I had no natural gift to be anything--not an athlete, not an actor, not a writer, not a director, a painter of garden porches--not anything. So I've worked really hard, because nothing ever came easily to me." --Paul Newman to Daily News, June 10, 1991

Awarded the Harvard University's Hasty Pudding Theatrical's Man of the Year Award in 1968.

He received an honorary LH.D. from Yale University in 1988.

Received the William J German human relations award presented by the American Jewish Committee.

Newman and Woodward have waged an anti-drug campaign under the auspices of the Scott Newman Foundation, named for Newman's late son who died of a drug overdose.

Ever since "Winning", Newman has raced automobiles. In 1984, he devoted himself entirely to racing. In 1985, he won the Sports Car Club of American National Championship, GT1 Class and Road Atlanta. He has also taken part in the grueling 24-hour Le Mans race, in which he and his teammates placed second.

Talking about his inability to give up auto racing: "Last year, I crashed more than I raced, so there may be somebody out there who's giving me subtle advice. But I really do enjoy it.Question: The thrill of it?Newman: No, the grace of it.--from USA Today, March 18, 1994

Newman invested in the magazine The Nation in the mid-1990s. In 1997, he wrote an editorial for the magazine which parodied Senator Jesse Helms.

Received the Golden Apple--Star of the Year Award from the Hollywood Women's Press Club (1986) and the Franklin D Roosevelt Four Freedom's Award (1991)

"It's devilish. It's like, you know, grabbing a thunderbolt, especially when everything is shot out of continuity, when everything depends on a scene that isn't even written yet. That's what I mean by devilish, in that way. You have to make judgments about where you're going to be. But I'm really loose in ways I haven't been in a long time." --Newman on his role in "Nobody's Fool", quoted in Los Angeles Times, April 3, 1994

Newman's Own has a website at www.newmansown.com

"Acting is like letting your pants down - you're exposed." - Newman GQ September 2002