He was one of Hollywood’s greatest leading men. But what went on in his mind? Readers will get the definitive version next year, thanks to Paul Newman’s unpublished memoir.
Newman passed away in 2008 aged 83, leaving behind five decades of work onscreen. His biggest movies include The Hustler (1961), Cool Hand Luke (1967), The Sting (1973), and The Verdict (1982). He was also known for his professional partnership with Robert Redford.
How did Paul Newman’s unpublished life story come to light?
Newman worked on his story for many years. He and writer Stewart Stern (1922 – 2015) began what’s described as an oral history. Stern spoke to “dozens of Newman’s friends and associates, ” as mentioned by the Los Angeles Times. He wound up with “hours of recordings,” according to the New York Times, made between the 1980s and late ’90s.
These were transcribed, before the paperwork sat in a basement room at the actor’s home in Connecticut for a couple of decades. Publisher Alfred A. Knopf won them at auction. The end product is being edited by Peter Gethers, with key input from the family.
We haven’t heard the last from this iconic movie star
The treasure trove of memories, opinions, and exclusive family photos should prove an unexpected treat for fans, as well as an insight into an influential American actor. Newman was reportedly known for being modest, yet suffered from insecurities just like anyone else.
Knopf states the untitled book reveals the “paradoxical and unstoppable rise of a star who wrestled with doubts,” who “transcended his ”˜hunk’ status to become an Oscar-winning actor”.
What was Newman worried about? Measuring up to the likes of contemporaries Marlon Brando and James Dean, for one. Interestingly, Stewart Stern wrote Dean’s 1955 breakthrough movie Rebel Without a Cause (from the non-fiction book by Robert M. Lindner).
There are also surprising details of Newman’s relationship with his mother, Theresa Garth. Quoted by the New York Times, Gethers mentions the star’s view that she “did not so much think of him as flesh and blood, but as a decoration.”
Newman and Redford
No doubt co-star and friend Robert Redford will get a shout-out. They famously collaborated on Butch Cassidy and The Sting. Speaking to Collider, Redford recalled the much-loved Western and the 13 year age gap between leading men.
This didn’t seem to bother Newman, who championed the young actor after wife Joanne Woodward saw him in a play. Redford goes on to say: “from that point on I had a great deal of affection for him, for what he did for me. He didn’t have to do that.”
Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward
A big part of the book – which mainly comprises Paul Newman’s own words – involves his long marriage to actress Joanne Woodward. Stewart Stern wrote the 1968 drama Rachel, Rachel in which Woodward took the title role. Based on the novel A Jest of God by Margaret Laurence, it was produced and directed by Newman himself.
Speaking to Barbara Walters not long before his death, Newman claimed the pair were very different. However, “we’ve managed to take those differences and admire them so much in the other one, I think that’s what makes the binding work.”
Ups and downs included Newman’s alcoholism and alleged affair with journalist Nancy Bacon. The New York Times writes how his depiction in other biographies led Newman to tell his own tale.
Speaking of “Newman’s Own”…
A Hollywood legacy
These days Paul Newman’s face is well known. Not just from Tinseltown but the supermarket shelf. The Newman’s Own food line was established by him with another writer/editor, A.E. Hotchner (1917 – 2020), in 1982.
Borne from the actor’s off-kilter passion for salad dressing, it reportedly started as a Christmas treat for pals. Mashed notes that health and safety didn’t appear to be a primary concern. Hotchner believed it “fortunate no one died: when they didn’t have anything to stir the vat with, Newman went outside, grabbed a canoe paddle, and started stirring.”
As befitting a company started by creatives, the products come with fun (and fictional) backstories. Newman apparently didn’t want his image on the bottle. The company is still going strong today, and all its profits go to good causes.
More from us: The Unseen Side Of ”˜Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid’
Newman and former spouse Jackie Witte suffered tragedy in 1978, when their son Scott died of a drug overdose at the age of 28. He was an actor and stuntman. The Scott Newman Center for drug education was founded by Paul Newman in his memory.
This much-anticipated and “secret” memoir is out in the autumn.