Who was Paul Newman and who did he want to be
Newman told Stern that the first role he felt emotionally comfortable in was Frank Galvin, the alcoholic lawyer in “The Verdict,” released in 1982, quite late in his career. “I never had to ask myself to do anything about this picture,” Newman said. “I never had to call on reserves. It was still there. I never prepared for anything, I never had to leave in a corner, it was there right away. It was wonderful.”
After making “Winning,” a 1969 movie about a racing driver, for which he was paid a record $1.1 million, Newman got into car racing, and he got really good at it. in this domain. He is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest person to win a professionally sanctioned race, the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona. He was seventy years old. He also attributed his success as a pilot to his perseverance. “The only thing I ever felt graceful about was driving a car,” he said. “And it took me ten years.”
Among the things the kids want to change is what one calls “the public fairy tale” of Newman’s fifty-year marriage to Woodward. Woodward dated many men before she met Newman, including Marlon Brando. But she was not glamorous. You wouldn’t know her on the street, that’s why she could play many types. You would have know Newman, that’s why he couldn’t. They had an intense and lifelong romance, and a big part of it, which they spoke candidly about in interviews, was sex. “Joanne gave birth to a sexual creature,” Newman says in her memoir. “I am simply a creature of his invention.” They also bonded professionally. They made sixteen films together; he directed her in five of them.
For a long time, however, the relationship was underground, as Newman was already married to a woman named Jackie Witte, and he couldn’t bring himself to file for divorce. “Impossible times,” he told Stern. “I was a failure as an adulterer.” (It’s unclear what counts as success in this area.) The affair left him miserable and, incredibly, it lasted in secret for five years, during which time Jackie gave birth to a daughter. Newman said he felt “guilty as hell” about his treatment of Jackie: “I will carry it with me for the rest of my life.” Jackie eventually remarried, but she wasn’t too happy about what he had done to her either.
Woodward was as ambitious and, at first, as accomplished as Newman – in 1958 she won Best Actress for ‘The Three Faces of Eve’ – but after she began having children she was often stayed at home while her husband was there. “Being Paul’s wife is my career,” she said at the time. Over the years, that feeling seems to have cooled somewhat.
They fought a lot, and it is hinted that Newman was having an affair. At least one is known, with an underage Hollywood actress named Nancy Bacon (“Sex Kittens Go to College”, “The Private Lives of Adam and Eve”). It started while he was doing “Butch Cassidy”, seems to have lasted a year or more, and hit the tabloids. (You won’t find it mentioned in either the TV series or the book. Bacon recounts it in his own memoir, “Legends and Lipstick.” Newman biographer Shawn Levy says his story is verified.) In 1983, Newman and Woodward renewed their vows.
The problem with all this biographical information isn’t that Paul Newman wasn’t Cool Hand Luke in the house. It is not a surprise. The problem is, his flaws were so, well, ordinary. People drink too much, cheat on their spouses even though they love them, and wish they had been better parents. What people don’t usually do is become Hollywood’s biggest male star and get nominated for ten Oscars. There must be more to Paul Newman than that.
It seems most people who knew Newman thought there was. In the memoirs, the juxtaposition of their testimonies with Newman’s self-analysis produces a kind of cognitive dissonance. Meet Arthur Newman, Paul’s brother: “Paul ended up having drive, energy and resourcefulness. . . . He gets this self-starter built into him and what happens to him? It becomes a success. And: “He was adorable, had a great personality and made people love him instantly. Plus he was smart and he was insightful and he had all the ingredients no matter what he was doing.
A comrade from the Navy: “A thousand yards away, I could tell it was Newman coming. . . . He had a certain allure about him; he was a confident child even at the age of nineteen. A friend from college: “He was probably the best-known guy on campus. He drank more. He fucked more. He was tough and cold – it turned against the girls. They loved him because he was the devil.
A classmate in Yale’s drama department, where Newman studied after Kenyon, referring to a coveted role: “Paul got it because he was by far the most magnetic and attractive of all actors there. . . . He had [it] because he made sure he got it. George Roy Hill, who directed Newman in ‘Butch Cassidy’, ‘The Sting’ and ‘Slap Shot’: “You never saw him play – he just was.” A family therapist: “Paul is a very loving and caring father. He has tremendous respect and love for his children. He’s a choose-your-own Newman, I guess.
In 1954, Newman burst into Hollywood, after some success on Broadway, with a turkey called “The Silver Chalice”. He played the role of Basil, an artist who makes the chalice used at the Last Supper. Bible stories were often very lucrative in those days. This one was not. Newman called it “the worst film produced in the fifties” and in 1963, when it was to be shown on a local television station in Los Angeles, he took out a newspaper ad: “Paul Newman s’ excuse every night this week—Channel 9. (The ad appears to have increased viewership.)
In 1958, Newman starred opposite Elizabeth Taylor as Brick in an adaptation of Tennessee Williams’ psychosexual melodrama “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”, for which he received the first of his Best Actor nominations. Newman looked great in a T-shirt, and he could play a drunk, both useful in the role. But psychosexual melodrama was not his genre. His character was too cool, too dry, too laconic.
This character did not come from the Broadway scene but from westerns. On stage, you have to play. In the cinema, if the camera likes you, you just have to be in the frame. The camera loved Paul Newman as it loved few other leading men, and he made a career out of acting, much like the actor he was often compared to in his early days, Marlon Brando, did. makes a career out of supercharging. (Newman admired Brando, but the comparison bored him. “I wonder if anyone is confusing him with Paul Newman,” he said. “I’d like to see that.”)
The films that established this cinematic persona were “The Hustler” (1961) and “Hud” (1963). “Hombre” and “Cool Hand Luke” came out in 1967, “Butch Cassidy” in 1969. They were all hits, and the posters sold the star, not the film: “Paul Newman East Houd. He was one of the biggest box office draws of the 1960s – and there was almost nothing sixties about him. The music he loved was Bach.
Newman was part of the generation of male Hollywood stars that replaced Clark Gable, Humphrey Bogart, Jimmy Stewart and Cary Grant, a generation that included Redford, Warren Beatty, Dustin Hoffman, Steve McQueen and Sidney Poitier. Along with a new generation of writers, directors and producers, they built the New Hollywood on the ruins of the old studio system.
The New Hollywood was a great place for leading men. He was less welcoming to women. The new female stars – Julie Andrews, Audrey Hepburn, Katharine Ross, Natalie Wood – played far fewer leading roles than the “screen goddesses” of old Hollywood, such as Joan Crawford, Vivien Leigh, Bette Davis, Grace Kelly, Katharine Hepburn and Ingrid Bergman, women who can reliably wear a photo. Marilyn Monroe, potentially the biggest star of the new cohort, died in 1962.
Female characters in Newman’s films are either damaged and expendable, like Piper Laurie in “The Hustler” (she kills herself) and Patricia Neal in “Hud” (she leaves town on a late-night bus), or they’re peripheral eye candies. , as Katharine Ross in “Butch Cassidy”. “Butch Cassidy” is pure bromance. Ross has almost nothing to do in this image except watch Newman perform tricks on a bicycle while listening to Burt Bacharach’s maddening “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head,” in a dramatically unnecessary scene. She leaves the story before the finale.
There’s a female lead in “Cool Hand Luke,” the dying mother of Luke (Jo Van Fleet), who has a single four-minute scene with Newman. (I’m not counting the young woman washing her car, a part that doesn’t have dialogue and doesn’t need it.) career. As Newman’s fiancée in “The Towering Inferno,” another big box office bromance, this one with Steve McQueen (okay, who’s got the bluest eyes?), Faye Dunaway is primarily tasked with appearing worry. There are plenty of female characters in “Harper,” a harsh sexist parody released in 1966. They all have crushes on the lead role, which has its way with them (much like in the early James Bond movies).