Nationality: American. Born: Cleveland, Ohio, 26 January 1925. Education: Attended Shaker Heights High School; Kenyon College, Gambier, Ohio, degree in economics and dramatics, 1949; Yale Drama School, New Haven, Connecticut, 1951–52. Military Service: U.S. Navy on torpedo planes as radioman, 1943–46; Family: Married 1) Jackie Witte, 1949, three children (one deceased); 2) the actress Joanne Woodward, 1958, three daughters. Career: 1949—acted in repertory company in Williams Bay, Wisconsin, and with Woodstock Players, Illinois; 1950–51—ran the family sportinggoods business in Cleveland after the death of his father; 1952—worked in television in New York; 1953—Broadway debut in Picnic ; 1954—contract with Warner Brothers, and film debut in The Silver Chalice ; on New York stage in The Desperate Hours ; 1959—on Broadway in Sweet Bird of Youth ; 1968—directed first feature film, Rachel, Rachel , starring Joanne Woodward; 1969—founder, with Barbra Streisand and Sidney Poitier, First Artists Production Company; also professional race car driver and owner of food manufacturing company, Newman's Own Inc.; 1995—part owner of The Nation . Awards: Best Actor, Cannes Festival, for The Long Hot Summer , 1958; Best Foreign Actor, British Academy, for The Hustler , 1961; Best Direction, New York Film Critics, for Rachel, Rachel , 1968; Honorary Oscar, "in recognition of his many memorable and compelling screen performances and for his personal integrity and dedication to his craft," 1985; Best Actor, Academy Award, for The Color of Money , 1986; Doctor of Humane Letters, Yale University, 1988. Address: 1120 5th Avenue #1C, New York, NY 10128, U.S.A.
Films as Actor:
The Silver Chalice (Saville) (as Basil the Defender)
The Rack (Laven) (as Capt. Edward Hall Jr.); Somebody Up There Likes Me (Wise) (as Rocky Graziano)
The Helen Morgan Story ( Both Ends of the Candle ) (Curtiz) (as Larry); Until They Sail (Wise) (as Capt. Jack Harding)
The Long Hot Summer (Riff) (as Ben Quick); The Left-Handed Gun (Arthur Penn) (as Billy Bonney); Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (Richard Brooks) (as Brick); Rally ' round the Flag, Boys! (McCarey) (as Harry Bannerman)
The Young Philadelphians ( The City Jungle ) (Sherman) (as Tony Lawrence)
From the Terrace (Robson) (as Alfred Eaton); Exodus (Preminger) (as Ari Ben Canaan)
Paris Blues (Ritt) (as Ram Bowen); The Hustler (Rossen) (as "Fast Eddie" Felson)
Hemingway's Adventures of a Young Man ( Adventures of a Young Man ) (Ritt) (as Ad Francis); Sweet Bird of Youth (Richard Brooks) (as Chance Wayne)
Hud (Ritt) (as Hud Bannon); A New Kind of Love (Shavelson) (as Steve Sherman); The Prize (Robson) (as Andrew Craig)
What a Way to Go! (Thompson) (as Larry Flint); The Outrage (Ritt) (as Juan Carrasco)
Lady L (Ustinov) (as Armand)
Harper ( The Moving Target ) (Smight) (as Lew Harper); Torn Curtain (Hitchcock) (as Professor Michael Armstrong)
Hombre (Ritt) (as John Russell); Cool Hand Luke (Rosenberg) (as Luke Jackson)
The Secret War of Harry Frigg (Smight) (title role)
Winning (Goldstone) (as Frank Capua); Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (Hill) (as Butch Cassidy)
WUSA (Rosenberg) (as Rheinhardt)
Pocket Money (Rosenberg) (as Jim Kane); The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean (Huston) (title role)
The Mackintosh Man (Huston) (as Rearden); The Sting (Hill) (as Henry Gondorff)
The Towering Inferno (Guillerman and Irwin Allen) (as Doug Roberts)
The Drowning Pool (Rosenberg) (as Lew Harper)
Buffalo Bill and the Indians, or Sitting Bull's History Lesson (Altman) (as Buffalo Bill); Silent Movie (Mel Brooks) (cameo)
Slapshot (Hill) (as Reggie Dunlop)
Quintet (Altman) (as Essex)
Absence of Malice (Pollack) (as Gallagher); Fort Apache, the Bronx (Petrie) (as Murphy); When Time Ran Out ( Earth's Final Fury ) (Goldstone) (as Hank Anderson)
The Verdict (Lumet) (as Frank Galvin)
The Color of Money (Scorsese) (as Eddie Felson)
Hello Actors Studio (Tresgot—doc)
Fat Man and Little Boy ( Shadow Makers ) (Joffé) (as Gen. Leslie R. Groves); Blaze (Shelton) (as Earl K. Long)
Mr. and Mrs. Bridge (Ivory) (as Walter Bridge)
Why Havel? (as himself)
The Hudsucker Proxy (Coen) (as Sidney J. Mussburger); Nobody's Fool (Benton) (as Donald "Sully" Sullivan)
Twilight (Benton) (as Harry Ross)
Message in a Bottle (Mandoki) (as Dodge Blake)
Where the Money Is (Kanievska) (as Henry)
Films as Director:
On the Harmfulness of Tobacco
Rachel, Rachel (+ pr)
Sometimes a Great Notion ( Never Give an Inch ) (+ ro as Hank Stamper)
The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds (+ pr)
The Shadow Box (for TV)
Harry and Son (+ ro as Harry, co-pr, co-sc)
The Glass Menagerie
By NEWMAN: books—
Hole in the Wall Gang Cookbook: Kid-Friendly Recipies for Families to Make Together , New York, 1998.
Newman's Own Cookbook , New York, 1998.
By NEWMAN: articles—
"Success Begins at Forty," in Films and Filming (London), January 1966.
"Interview: Paul Newman," in Playboy (Chicago), July 1968.
"The Anti-Hero as Director," interview with D. Diehl, in Action (Los Angeles), May-June 1969.
Interview with R. Sklar and A. Horton, in Cineaste (New York), vol. 12, no. 1, 1982.
"Newman on Nukes," interview with J. Goodman, in American Film (Washington, D.C.), October 1982.
Interview with Brian Baxter, in Films and Filming (London), March 1987.
Interview with Michel Cieutat, in Positif (Paris), March 1987.
On NEWMAN: books—
Hamblett, Charles, Paul Newman , London, 1975.
Godfrey, Lionel, Paul Newman, Superstar: A Critical Biography , New York, 1978.
Quick, Lawrence J., The Films of Paul Newman , Secaucus, New Jersey, 1981.
Barbier, Philippe, and Jacques Moreau, Album Photos: Paul Newman , Paris, 1983.
Landry, J. C., Paul Newman , London, 1983.
Guerif, François, Paul Newman , Paris, 1987.
Kerbel, Michael, Paul Newman: Seine Filme, sein Leben , Munich, 1987.
Morella, Joe, and Edward Z. Epstein, Paul and Joanne: A Biography of Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward , New York, 1988.
Netter, Susan, Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward , London, 1989.
Oumano, Elena, Paul Newman , New York, 1989.
Stern, Stewart, No Tricks in My Pocket: Paul Newman Directs , New York, 1989.
Lax, Eric, Paul Newman: A Biography , Atlanta, 1996.
Quirk, Lawrence J., Paul Newman: The Man Behind the Steel Blue Eyes , Dallas, 1997.
On NEWMAN: articles—
Eyles, Allen, "The Other Brando," in Films and Filming (London), January 1965.
Westerbeck, C. L., Jr., "Good Company," in Sight and Sound (London), Autumn 1973.
Gow, Gordon, "Closer to Life," in Films and Filming (London), April 1975.
Farber, Stephen, "Paul Newman," in The Movie Star , edited by Elisabeth Weis, New York, 1981.
Baxter, Brian, "Paul Newman," in Films and Filming (London), August 1984.
Current Biography 1985 , New York, 1985.
Eisenberg, Lee, "Paul Newman: Him with His Foot to the Floor," in Esquire (New York), June 1988.
Worrell, Denise, in Icons: Intimate Portraits , New York, 1989.
Scheer, Robert, "The Further Adventures of Paul Newman," in Esquire (New York), October 1989.
Dowd, Maureen, "Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward: A Lifetime of Shared Passions," in McCall's , January 1991.
Carter, Betsy, "Paul Newman Acts His Age," in Harper's Bazaar , April 1994.
Hirschberg, Lynn, "Has Paul Newman Finally Grown Up?," in New York , 12 December 1994.
Ansen, David, "American's Own," in Newsweek , 19 December 1994.
Radio Times (London), 18 June 1994.
Stars (Mariembourg), Spring 1995, Winter 1996.
* * *
Of his movie debut in The Silver Chalice , Paul Newman has been quoted as saying, "to have the honor of being in the worst picture of the fifties and surviving is no mean feat." Whether it really is the worst film of the 1950s is a matter for some debate; the fact of Newman's quite remarkable survival is not.
For in spite of a clutch of poor reviews for his role as "Basil the Defender" in that ignoble epic, Newman—fresh from the Actors Studio and some success in a Broadway production of Picnic —was to become one of the most accomplished of film actors. Reversing the customary relation between the sublime and the ridiculous, he went straight from The Silver Chalice to the role of Rocky Graziano in Somebody Up There Likes Me , and from that film until Hud in 1963 Newman did nothing but learn and improve. In his best performances of these years ( The Left-Handed Gun , The Hustler , and Hud rather than the more theatrical material such as Cat on a Hot Tin Roof or Sweet Bird of Youth ) he rose to the challenge of movie acting with apparently effortless skill.
Take The Left-Handed Gun . Arthur Penn's neurotically intense Freudian Western presents a young man constantly on the very edge of insanity, a Billy the Kid with all the traditional accoutrements but none of the heroics. Newman, typically, built his performance on detailed physical impressions, his every movement convoluted, his gestures conveying impossible tensions. He really is like a spring ready to snap. This Billy is clearly of the Actors Studio, of a piece with the work of Brando, Steiger, Wallach, and Clift. Expression of character comes from within, "absorbing other people's personalities and adding some of your own," as Newman once put it. The difficulty with this approach, the so-called Method, is that it was designed primarily for the stage and therefore all too easily led its exponents into overstatement on screen. It was essential to tone down Method techniques to meet the singular requirements of movie acting.
For Newman, unlike Rod Steiger and to some extent Marlon Brando, that proved no great problem, and by 1961 and The Hustler he had found the perfect balance. Newman's performance as Fast Eddie Felson, the consummately ambitious pool hustler who ultimately finds self-respect, harnesses the sheer physicality of Method technique to the understatement required of actors playing on the big screen. In The Hustler Newman uses many of the little contrivances on which he was to come to rely: suddenly looking away and turning back with a quizzical expression; restraining that luminous smile then switching it on like a spotlight; furrowing his brow in a way that breathes seriousness into the most trivial exchange. In this film, however, there is much more to his performance than skillful deployment of these techniques.
Partly, of course, that is a product of quality and depth in The Hustler 's writing and direction. Looks and smiles convey much more when writer, director, and cinematographer are as skilled as the actor, and it is likely that Fast Eddie would have been fascinating whoever played the role. But there is also a strong sense of involvement from Newman, an engagement with character which has not been found in many of his performances since. In The Hustler Newman the actor is subjugated to Eddie the character: all his considerable skills are placed in the service of the film. In his later big successes ( Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid , The Sting , and even the rather better Cool Hand Luke ) everything is built upon an already established Newman persona. These films are vehicles. Not in the sense that they are made solely to display him, but that they are movies in which his written character is sufficient of a tabula rasa to allow him to play it by resorting to the now familiar array of Newman techniques and mannerisms. These are roles molded by the requirements of the star system and played by reflex.
This is not to suggest that Newman has not given audiences and filmmakers excellent value. He has probably provided more consistent service than any other actor of the Method generation. It is only when you view his work of the 1970s and 1980s in the light of his best performances that you realize how much was lost when he was transformed from actor into star. Fortunately, it is no longer necessary to return to The Hustler to make that comparison. Since he turned 60 he seems to have found new commitment and energy, gracing several films with impeccable performances. One such is his hugely enjoyable portrait of the extrovert and eccentric Earl K. Long in Blaze . Another, perhaps the biggest delight to long-term admirers, is his recreation of Eddie Felson 25 years on in The Color of Money , for which he finally received the Academy Award that he merited for its prequel, The Hustler . Scorsese's film may not have the classical narrative qualities of Robert Rossen's original but it does have Newman giving an object lesson in refined movie acting. And the early 1990s have produced a little run of quality performances in Mr. and Mrs. Bridge , The Hudsucker Proxy , and, best of all, as Sully in Nobody ' s Fool , for which he received yet another Oscar nomination.