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Paul Newman: A Life Hardcover – Deckle Edge, May 5, 2009

4.0 out of 5 stars 160 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Film critic and biographer Levy (Rat Pack Confidential) embarks on a respectful, thoroughgoing survey of Newman's long life (1925–2008) and massive film career without lingering on emotional and psychological factors. A kind of accidental hero, Newman recognized that his blue-eyed good looks would open doors for him, but by sheer determination and work ethic he muscled his way to the Olympian heights of America's finest actors. Born to middle-class Jewish parents in Shaker Heights, Ohio, he eventually enlisted in the navy then attended Kenyon College on the GI Bill; his early first marriage and dabbling in theater seemed to be a way to avoid having to return home and take over his father's sporting-goods store. He enrolled in Yale's drama department, then in 1952 gave himself a year in New York to prove himself: he hustled small, paying parts and gradually became a part of the Actors Studio, where he claimed to have learned everything he knew about acting. From then on, using his connections shrewdly, he moved from success on Broadway (Picnic, where he met Joanne Woodward, whom he married in 1958) to TV (Our Town) and Hollywood (Somebody Up There Likes Me). From there, the professional accolades began piling up, while Levy also chronicles Newman's stunning success as a race-car driver, entrepreneur and philanthropist. Levy doesn't shy from discussing Newman's shortcomings as a father and husband, yet he leaves a glowing assessment of this legend's career. (May)
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From Booklist

As many diverse roles as Paul Newman played on the silver screen, he occupied nearly as many roles in his real life. Levy, in this for-the-record biography, shows us Newman as the hungry New York actor, the guilt-ridden divorcé, the matinee idol, the grieving father, the business philanthropist—and many more. Newman thought of himself as essentially two people: the public actor and the private man. Levy shows us that, in fact, Newman had many different identities within those two primary delineations. As the public performer, he was a consummate professional (and, of course, glamorous beyond compare). In this context, he wore not only the hat of leading man but also those of director, fund-raiser, promoter, and stage performer. In his private life, Newman proved just as supple, inhabiting the roles of loyal son and brother, supportive husband (to actress Joanne Woodward) and responsible provider for his six children. But he had his faults. Levy delicately documents Newman’s extramarital dalliances as well as his fatherly failings. Ultimately, the author reveals how Newman was able to blend his many components and become a man of great integrity who was successful at almost everything he tried—including his charitable pursuits. Levy’s representation of the many Newmans will leave readers feeling that they have somehow slipped through the security gate and gotten to know a movie star who was famously guarded about his private life. --Jerry Eberle

This Book Is Bound with "Deckle Edge" Paper
You may have noticed that some of our books are identified as "deckle edge" in the title. Deckle edge books are bound with pages that are made to resemble handmade paper by applying a frayed texture to the edges. Deckle edge is an ornamental feature designed to set certain titles apart from books with machine-cut pages. See a larger image.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Crown Archetype (May 5, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307353753
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307353757
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.3 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (160 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #252,633 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Mike O'Connor TOP 500 REVIEWER on September 26, 2009
Format: Hardcover
As revealed in Shawn Levy's delightful biography, Paul Newman was many things. An actor, producer, director, race car driver and humanitarian, he was a fascinating human being - talented, analytical, grounded, private, compassionate, involved. Though his stunning, blue-eyed looks set him apart, it was, in fact, his humility, intelligence and humanity that ultimately made him the class act so many people knew and loved. Shawn Levy examines this singular man in this well-written 2009 biography from Harmony Books.

Having recently slogged through biographies of Anthony Hopkins, George C. Scott and Jack Nicholson, Levy's book was a breath of fresh air...for several reasons. First, unlike those three "tortured geniuses," Paul Newman was a likeable human being. He had his faults and failings, as related in the book, but he did a fairly good job of keeping his demons under control. An atypical movie star, he had no use for Hollywood glitz and glamor. Most importantly, he never lost his innate humanity, setting the bar for Hollywood in terms of charity work.

Secondly, it is so refreshing to read a well-crafted biography that never sinks to the trash tabloid level nor does it bury you with reams of needless details. PAUL NEWMAN, A LIFE is a comprehensive, critical yet affectionate and well-done account of one man who made a difference...on many levels. Levy is a wordsmith, a craftsman with a first-rate command of the English language and a perceptive eye to boot. The book runs to 445 pages yet I never had the "enough already" feeling.

In short, PAUL NEWMAN, A LIFE provides a full and fascinating look at what was an intensely private man. Finishing it, there's a touch of sadness that such a talented, vital and productive individual is gone.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I never knew that Paul Newman had been married once before his storied romance and marriage to Joanne Woodward - until now. I never knew that Paul Newman had a son that died tragically young - until now. I never knew that the storybook marriage that seemed rock-solid once had a major crack in it in the form of a fairly serious affair - until now. I knew that Paul Newman liked his beer, but not to the full extent as he apparently did - until now. I new Paul Newman was generous towards worthy causes - but just how incredibly generous I never knew...until now. I learned alot in the reading of this book. Shawn Levy's new biography of the incredible Mr. Newman is an informative read. It is swiftly paced (except for a little too much detail regarding the actor's passion for racing - but...given that he spent so much of his life pursuing racing, perhaps the details are appropriate.) If anything, the book moves along at too quick a speed. Don't expect any detailed analysis on the making of the movies, for example. Marlon Brando is mentioned as meeting Mr. Newman a number of times, yet there is no information as to what they thought of one another, how they got along. (Newman was compared to Brando in the '50's and some reviewers even felt he looked like him!)And Paul Newman's final days are rather quickly recounted; as a matter-of-fact, we never learn anything of wife Joanne Woodward's reaction to his demise. But these small points aside, if you wish to learn much more than you may presently know about Paul Newman, give this book a read. I enjoyed it. It could have been more, but what there is of it is pretty darn good. And I'll say it again: Paul Newman's legacy - apart from a handful of really wonderful films - will be his genuine generosity and true compassion for the charities he not only gave to but also created. He was a beautiful man on the outside, yes, but all the more beautiful inside for his gift of giving.
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Format: Hardcover
Paul Newman is one of our true movie stars, back when that phrase really meant something. His death last year reminded us what a unique individual he was- an actor, movie star, race car driver, husband, father, grandfather, businessman, humanitarian.

Shawn Levy has written a new biography, titled PAUL NEWMAN- A LIFE. And it was quite a life he lived. I vividly remember my mother taking me to see "The Sting", starring Newman and Robert Redford. It was one of the first grown-up movies I saw, and I felt very sophisticated. Redford was gorgeous, but it was Newman who charmed me. There seemed something mischievous behind those blue eyes and that knowing smile.

Levy does a great job chronicling Newman's early years, and he footnotes and endnotes extensively, not something you normally see in a biography of a movie star. He quotes from reviews of Newman's plays and movies, and that helps put Newman's work in context of the times.

The author delves into Newman's youth and his college days at Kenyon College, where Newman realized he had the desire to act. Newman was a bit of a rascal who loved to party and was not opposed to imbibing in beer, something that he continued to do throughout his life. Levy states that as an adult Newman would often drink a case of beer a day. (Budweiser sent Newman ten cases of beer a week as payment for advertising for them, and they didn't go to waste.)

Levy spoke with several people who went to school with Newman, and their memories of a young Newman are insightful. Newman loved to rehearse, to dig deeply into his character and their motivations, and as this practice grew with his career, it was not always appreciated by his costars or directors.
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