Monday, March 21, 2011
SPOTLIGHT ON PAUL NEWMAN
Newman was born in Shaker Heights, Ohio on January 26, 1925 (a suburb of Cleveland), the son of Theresa (née Fetzer or Fetsko; Slovak: Terézia Fecková and Arthur Samuel Newman, who ran a profitable sporting goods store. Newman's father was Jewish, the son of immigrants from Poland and Hungary; Newman's mother, who practiced Christian Science, was born to a Slovak Roman Catholic family at Ptičie (formerly Pticsie) in the former Austria–Hungary (now in Slovakia). Newman had no religion as an adult, but described himself as "a Jew", stating that "it's more of a challenge". Newman's mother worked in his father's store, while raising Paul and his brother, Arthur, who later became a producer and production manager.
Newman showed an early interest in the theater, which his mother encouraged. At the age of seven, he made his acting debut, playing the court jester in a school production of Robin Hood. Graduating from Shaker Heights High School in 1943, he briefly attended Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, where he was initiated into the Phi Kappa Tau fraternity.
Newman made his Broadway theater debut in the original production of William Inge's Picnic with Kim Stanley. He later appeared in the original Broadway productions of The Desperate Hours and Sweet Bird of Youth with Geraldine Page. He would later star in the film version of Sweet Bird of Youth, which also starred Page.
His first movie for Hollywood was The Silver Chalice (1954), followed by The Rack (1956) and acclaimed roles in Somebody Up There Likes Me (1956), as boxer Rocky Graziano; Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958), opposite Elizabeth Taylor; and The Young Philadelphians (1959), with Barbara Rush and Robert Vaughn. However, predating all of these above was a small but notable part in an August 8, 1952 episode of the science fiction TV series Tales of Tomorrow entitled "Ice from Space", in which he played Sergeant Wilson, his first credited TV or film appearance. In the mid-1950s, he appeared twice on CBS's Appointment with Adventure anthology series.
Newman was one of the few actors who successfully made the transition from 1950s cinema to that of the 1960s and 1970s. His rebellious persona translated well to a subsequent generation. Newman starred in Exodus (1960), The Hustler (1961), Hud (1963), Harper (1966), Hombre (1967), Cool Hand Luke (1967), The Towering Inferno (1974), Slap Shot (1977), and The Verdict (1982). He teamed with fellow actor Robert Redford and director George Roy Hill for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) and The Sting (1973).
He appeared with his wife, Joanne Woodward, in the feature films The Long, Hot Summer (1958), Rally 'Round the Flag, Boys!, (1958), From the Terrace (1960), Paris Blues (1961), A New Kind of Love (1963), Winning (1969), WUSA (1970), The Drowning Pool (1975), Harry & Son (1984), and Mr. and Mrs. Bridge (1990). They both also starred in the HBO miniseries Empire Falls, but did not have any scenes together.
In addition to starring in and directing Harry & Son, Newman also directed four feature films (in which he did not act) starring Woodward. They were Rachel, Rachel (1968), based on Margaret Laurence's A Jest of God, the screen version of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds (1972), the television screen version of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play The Shadow Box (1980), and a screen version of Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie (1987).
In 2003, he appeared in a Broadway revival of Wilder's Our Town, receiving his first Tony Award nomination for his performance. PBS and the cable network Showtime aired a taping of the production, and Newman was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or TV Movie.
His last screen appearance was as a conflicted mob boss in the 2002 film Road to Perdition opposite Tom Hanks, although he continued to provide voice work for films.
In 2005 at age 80, Newman was profiled alongside Robert Redford as part of the Sundance Channel's TV series Iconoclasts.
In June 2008 it was widely reported that Newman, a former chain smoker, had been diagnosed with lung cancer and was receiving treatment at Sloan-Kettering hospital in New York City. Photographs taken of Newman in May and June showed him looking gaunt. Writer A.E. Hotchner, who partnered with Newman to start the Newman's Own company in the 1980s, told the Associated Press that Newman told him about the disease about eighteen months prior to the interview. Newman's spokesman told the press that the star was "doing nicely," but neither confirmed nor denied that he had cancer. In August, after reportedly finishing chemotherapy, Newman told his family he wished to die at home.
He died on September 26, 2008, aged 83, surrounded by his family and close friends. His remains were subsequently cremated after a private funeral service near his home in Westport...