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With his long-awaited memoir out now, we’re looking back on the actor’s life in photos. They sure don’t make movie stars like this anymore.
After six decades of Hollywood superstardom, it’s difficult to imagine that anything could remain unknown about Paul Newman. But that’s the particular magic trick of The Extraordinary Life of an Ordinary Man, a new memoir published nearly fourteen years after the actor’s death. Assembled by way of a literary scavenger hunt, the book, out now, is an extraordinary act of resurrection and reimagination.
Between 1986 and 1991, Newman sat down with screenwriter Stewart Stern for a series of soul-baring interviews about his life and career. With the actor’s encouragement, Stern also recorded hundreds of hours worth of interviews with his friends, family, and colleagues. The whole enterprise was destined to become Newman’s authorized biography, but his feelings on the project soured; in 1998, he gathered the tapes in a pile and set fire to them. Luckily, Stern kept transcripts—over 14,000 pages worth. The Extraordinary Life of an Ordinary Man has come into being by way of Newman’s children, who with the aid of editor David Rosenthal streamlined those transcripts into a memoir. (Newman gave the project his blessing, saying with characteristic humility in one of his interviews with Stern, “It would be nice to straighten up the record if there is any interest in a biography.”)
The book reveals an honest and unvarnished portrait of the man behind those famous baby blues. For the first time, Newman speaks openly about his traumatic childhood, his lifelong struggle with alcoholism, and his tormenting self-doubt. But the highs are there too—like his 50-year marriage to actress Joanne Woodward—as well as the mysteries of making art, and the “imponderable of being a human being.” To celebrate the release of The Extraordinary Life of an Ordinary Man, we’re looking back on the actor’s life in photos. They sure don’t make movie stars like this anymore.
Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman holding a knife together as they prepare to cut into their wedding cake in Las Vegas, Nevada on January 29, 1958.
Paul Newman photographed on the beach in 1958.
Paul Newman and Robert Redford in a scene from the movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid in 1969.
Paul Newman before the start of the Le Mans 24-hour race. He and his two co-drivers finished second in their Turbo Porsche on June 11, 1979.
1958: Joanne Woodward holds her Oscar statuette while sitting next to her husband, Paul Newman, during the Governor’s Ball, an Academy Awards party held at The Beverly Hilton Hotel, Beverly Hills, California.
Barber Jay Sebring cutting Paul Newman’s hair on the set of the film Moving Target outside a sound stage at Warner Bros. studio in 1965.
Paul Newman standing on a water taxi under the Rialto Bridge, Grand Canal, Venice in 1963.
Paul Newman and race car drivers Michael Andretti and his father, Mario Andretti, as they talk together at the Indy 500, Indianapolis, Indiana, May 1984.
Paul Newman in a scene from the film Cool Hand Luke in 1967.
Paul Newman wearing a white t-shirt in a publicity still issued for the film, The Hustler, circa 1961.
Paul Newman as Reggie ‘Reg’ Dunlop with co-stars Yvan Ponton as Jean-Guy Drouin, Stephen Mendillo as Jim Ahern and Allan F Nicholls as Johnny Upton, in the comedy film Slap Shot in 1977.
Feet up, Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman share a relaxing moment while reading movie scripts in 1958.
Paul Newman lending his name to a state initiative calling for a bilateral nuclear weapons freeze in 1982.
Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward come up with cement on their hands as they become the 140th and 141st stars to be honored with foot and hand prints at Grauman’s Chinese Theater in 1963.
Paul Newman and Tom Cruise standing at a pool table in a scene from the film The Color Of Money in 1986.
Paul Newman and Elizabeth Taylor in the 1958 MGM version of the Tennessee Williams play Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.
Paul Newman leaning on a sign which reads ‘Stop on Light’ at a film studio during the filming of The Silver Chalice, circa 1954.
Paul Neuman, sitting at a table in the Excelsior garden with many other men, holding a bottle of beer and toasting with them, Lido, Venice, 1963.
Paul Newman photographed March 14, 1981 at Long Beach, California.
Paul Newman and his son Scott Newman attend the Ontarion 500 automobile race in Ontario, CA, September 3, 1972.