Turner Publications, 1996
In 1954, by then a successful Broadway actor, Newman launched his film career – disastrously – as Basil the slave in The Silver Chalice. Yet before long he would be considered not only a fine actor but one of the sexiest men in films. Eventually determined to control his own career, Newman broke away from the old studio system, which dictated what roles an actor could take, and with astute choices in scripts and directors, he ultimately established a screen presence that has remained both popular and respected. From Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and The Hustler to The Sting and Slap Shot, and on to the The Color of Money, Mr. and Mrs. Bridge, and the recent Nobody’s Fool, Paul Newman has demonstrated again and again how versatile and compelling an actor he is. In films that Newman directed, such as Rachel, Rachel and Harry and Son, which starred Joanne Woodward, his wife of nearly forty years, ordinary people attempt to make sense of their lives. In contrast, this most unordinary man has lived a life of remarkable achievement on the stage and in cinema, has won four national amateur race car titles, devoted himself to political activism, and started a nonprofit food business, Newman’s Own, that so far has donated nearly $70 million to worthy causes. Drawing on interviews with Newman and others who have worked with him, Eric Lax has succeeded in bringing out the real man from behind the enduring screen image.
From Publishers Weekly
The life of one of Hollywood’s most enduring stars gets a quick once-over in this coffee-table biography. The most attractive feature of the book is the array of dozens of handsomely reproduced photographs, many in color, of Newman at various stages of his career. Most of the photos are publicity shots or production stills, with only a few family shots, but they provide a thorough record of the progress of one of the most startlingly handsome faces in film. Although it relies too heavily on synopses of Newman’s movies and on quotes from reviews, Lax’s (Woody Allen) text is smooth, informative and occasionally insightful, especially on the appeal of the wounded characters for which Newman is best known: “Fast Eddie” Felson in The Hustler, Hud, “Sully” Sullivan in Nobody’s Fool. The account of Newman the man is superficial, however, though perhaps necessarily so, since the star is notoriously one of the most private men in show business. Nonetheless, the best moments in the text come from Newman himself, in tough-minded quotes from earlier interviews and from a long interview with Lax in which the star, now 71, is revealed as a gruffly charming and self-deprecating raconteur, still, after all these years, his own toughest critic. Though the book seems aimed at hard-core Newman fans, it also serves as a reminder, especially to younger folk, that there’s a history to the face that has launched so many bottles of spaghetti sauce and salad dressing.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From New York Times Book Review
Faithfully recounts the facts about Paul Leonard Newman … who seems to be an extraordinarily decent man.