Customer Reviews for

Paul Newman: A Life

Average Rating 3.5
( 25 )
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

A fascinating look at an American movie star

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 ...
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.

He married young and had two children with his first wife, but their marriage didn't last. Levy points out the irony of a man who was well known for having one of the most successful, long-lived marriages in Hollywood, actually falling in love with his second wife, actress Joanne Woodward, while he was still married to wife number one.

I did not know that Newman also had an affair (while married to Joanne) with a reporter he met while filming "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid". It lasted for over a year, and nearly ruined his second marriage, but after the affair ended, he and Joanne worked it out. Again, they were an example for people that no marriage is perfect, but it takes work, love, patience and forgiveness to make it last.

Newman had such a long career, Levy does his best to get it all in this book without making it 1000 pages, which it easily could have been. The one thing that gets short shrift is Newman's role as a father. It is touched on, but it would have been interesting to know more about how he parented from his children. They seem like people who like their privacy, and after the death of Newman's son Scott from a drug overdose, and the publicity surrounding it, I imagine they were leery of the press.

Newman is quoted as saying that "What I would really like to put on my tombstone is that I was part of my time". Levy makes the correct statement that he was, and that is one thing that shines through in this fascinating biography. Newman really was a man made in his time, an embodiment of a true American individual.

posted by bookchickdi on June 18, 2009

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Most Helpful Critical Review

1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

Disappointed

I was very disappointed with this book. Not enough of Newman. The book could have been 250 pages shorter if the author would have stuck with Newman and his life rather than giving trivial details about persons associated with screen production of whom we do not care. T...
I was very disappointed with this book. Not enough of Newman. The book could have been 250 pages shorter if the author would have stuck with Newman and his life rather than giving trivial details about persons associated with screen production of whom we do not care. The cadence was choppy and the story line jumped from year to year in no apparent fashion. You had difficulty knowing exactly where he was going. Not good for a bio. If you can put up with he first 400 pages, the last two Chapters were worth reading, if you can forgive the author for citing the date of death but not mentioning the year.

posted by Dianne19 on July 22, 2009

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  • Posted June 18, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    A fascinating look at an American movie star

    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.

    He married young and had two children with his first wife, but their marriage didn't last. Levy points out the irony of a man who was well known for having one of the most successful, long-lived marriages in Hollywood, actually falling in love with his second wife, actress Joanne Woodward, while he was still married to wife number one.

    I did not know that Newman also had an affair (while married to Joanne) with a reporter he met while filming "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid". It lasted for over a year, and nearly ruined his second marriage, but after the affair ended, he and Joanne worked it out. Again, they were an example for people that no marriage is perfect, but it takes work, love, patience and forgiveness to make it last.

    Newman had such a long career, Levy does his best to get it all in this book without making it 1000 pages, which it easily could have been. The one thing that gets short shrift is Newman's role as a father. It is touched on, but it would have been interesting to know more about how he parented from his children. They seem like people who like their privacy, and after the death of Newman's son Scott from a drug overdose, and the publicity surrounding it, I imagine they were leery of the press.

    Newman is quoted as saying that "What I would really like to put on my tombstone is that I was part of my time". Levy makes the correct statement that he was, and that is one thing that shines through in this fascinating biography. Newman really was a man made in his time, an embodiment of a true American individual.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 22, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Disappointed

    I was very disappointed with this book. Not enough of Newman. The book could have been 250 pages shorter if the author would have stuck with Newman and his life rather than giving trivial details about persons associated with screen production of whom we do not care. The cadence was choppy and the story line jumped from year to year in no apparent fashion. You had difficulty knowing exactly where he was going. Not good for a bio. If you can put up with he first 400 pages, the last two Chapters were worth reading, if you can forgive the author for citing the date of death but not mentioning the year.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 18, 2009

    Good book about a complex and interesting man.

    I thought this book was a very balanced look at the life of Paul Newman. He was in many ways one of a kind, but the book pointed out not only the wonderful side of Paul, but the complex side as well. The only criticism I have of the book is toward the end it seemed to drag. But other than that I really enjoyed reading about the life of someone I very much respect.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 13, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Paul Newman Inspires the Best in All of Us

    I actually began reading Shawn Levy's book several weeks ago. For a time, I was not quite sure I could get through all the screen credit information. What I really wanted was to know who Paul Newman the person was like. Throughout this book, Levy provides glimpses of the kind of human being one of America's greatest actors was. It is clear from the book that Newman always put his all in acting. It came across to me that he was a perfectionist about his work. Levy's story of Newman takes you from his beginnings in Cleveland to his passing in Westport. What seemed to be consistent through it all was that Paul Newman was always Paul Newman. His love for his wife Joanne Woodward makes all of us long for the kind of relationship they celebrated. His acts of charity in donating the profits from his company Newman's Own to his Hole in the Wall Camps and other charities makes us all want to do our part as well. Levy's highly sympathetic read is at once enjoyable and inspiring.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 11, 2009

    Wonderful book on wonderful Paul Newman

    I want to admit, right from the start, I lack objectivity where Paul Newman is concerned. I not only always enjoyed his movies, I admired his sense of humanity, his desire to 'share the wealth' with others, especially thru his work with terminally ill children and various charities. He left behind such a legacy of class and giving.
    This book does cover his life from cradle to grave and touches on some of the most prickly areas, like his affair with Joanne Woodward, who would become his second and final wife. The man wasn't perfect, especially during that period of infidelity...but, he sure as hell made up for any wrongs committed in the second part of his life. This book chronicles it all...extensive research, well-written, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I just wish the title had been "Paul Newman & A Life Well-Lived"

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2011

    Very Solid

    Not as in depth as you want, but not far off. It gives a thorough description of his work, and how it affected his life. His struggle to deal with the burden of being Paul Newman is a subject of great interest, and is discussed with great detail. A wonderful portrait. I couldn't imagine a more in depth biography of this man.

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  • Posted January 19, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Interesting Life

    I enjoyed this book about a man who truly embodies what a modern Renaissance man is. If you a fan of movies and/or Paul Newman the actor, then you will really enjoy this book. The author did a really good job researching the parts that Newman worked in and what the "story" was behind some of his role selections and rejections. I would have given it a higher rating if Levy provided more of the business/philanthropic side of Newman (there is some material on these subjects but not enough in my opinion). Overall, he provides a very balanced view of his life and it is clear that Levy was a big Newman fan. Levy is able to penetrate his very protective guard a little to provide the reader some insights into his very interesting and fulfilling life.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 28, 2009

    "Heal The World" "Will You Be There"

    "Heal The World"

    There's A Place In
    Your Heart
    And I Know That It Is Love
    And This Place Could
    Be Much
    Brighter Than Tomorrow
    And If You Really Try
    You'll Find There's No Need
    To Cry
    In This Place You'll Feel
    There's No Hurt Or Sorrow

    There Are Ways
    To Get There
    If You Care Enough
    For The Living
    Make A Little Space
    Make A Better Place...

    Heal The World
    Make It A Better Place
    For You And For Me
    And The Entire Human Race
    There Are People Dying
    If You Care Enough
    For The Living
    Make A Better Place
    For You And For Me

    If You Want To Know Why
    There's A Love That
    Cannot Lie
    Love Is Strong
    It Only Cares For
    Joyful Giving
    If We Try
    We Shall See
    In This Bliss
    We Cannot Feel
    Fear Or Dread
    We Stop Existing And
    Start Living

    Then It Feels That Always
    Love's Enough For
    Us Growing
    So Make A Better World
    Make A Better World...

    Heal The World
    Make It A Better Place
    For You And For Me
    And The Entire Human Race
    There Are People Dying
    If You Care Enough
    For The Living
    Make A Better Place
    For You And For Me

    And The Dream We Were
    Conceived In
    Will Reveal A Joyful Face
    And The World We
    Once Believed In
    Will Shine Again In Grace
    Then Why Do We Keep
    Strangling Life
    Wound This Earth
    Crucify Its Soul
    Though It's Plain To See
    This World Is Heavenly
    Be God's Glow

    We Could Fly So High
    Let Our Spirits Never Die
    In My Heart
    I Feel You Are All
    My Brothers
    Create A World With
    No Fear
    Together We'll Cry
    Happy Tears
    See The Nations Turn
    Their Swords
    Into Plowshares

    We Could Really Get There
    If You Cared Enough
    For The Living
    Make A Little Space
    To Make A Better Place...

    Heal The World
    Make It A Better Place
    For You And For Me
    And The Entire Human Race
    There Are People Dying
    If You Care Enough

    Will You Be There lyrics

    Hold Me
    Like The River Jordan
    And I Will Then Say To Thee
    You Are My Friend

    Carry Me
    Like You Are My Brother
    Love Me Like A Mother
    Would You Be There?

    Weary
    Tell Me Will You Hold Me
    When Wrong, Will You Skold Me
    When Lost Will You Find Me?

    But They Told Me
    A Man Should Be Faithful
    And Walk When Not Able
    And Fight Till The End
    But I'm Only Human

    Everyone's Taking Control Of Me
    Seems That The World's
    Got A Role For Me
    I'm So Confused
    Will You Show To Me
    You'll Be There For Me
    And Care Enough To Bear Me

    (Hold Me) show me
    (Lay Your Head Lowly)
    told me
    (Softly Then Boldly)
    yeah
    (Carry Me There)
    I'm Only Human

    (Lead Me)
    hold me
    (Love Me And Feed Me)
    ye yeah
    (Kiss Me And Free Me)
    yeah
    (I Will Feel Blessed)
    I'm Only Human

    (Carry)
    Carry
    (Carry Me Boldly)
    Carry me
    (Lift Me Up Slowly)
    yeah
    (Carry Me There)
    I'm Only Human

    (Save Me)
    need me
    (Heal Me And Bathe Me)
    lift me up, lift me up
    (Softly You Say To Me)
    (I Will Be There)
    I Will Be There

    (Lift Me)
    i'm gonna care
    (Lift Me Up Slowly)
    (Carry Me Boldly)
    yeah
    (Show Me You Care)
    Show Me You Care

    (Hold Me)
    whoooo
    (Lay Your Head Lowly)
    i git lonly some times
    (Softly Then Boldly)
    i git lonly
    (Carry Me There)
    yeah yeah carry me there
    yeah yeah yeah

    [Spoken]
    In Our Darkest Hour
    In My Deepest Despair
    Will You Still Care?
    Will You Be There?
    In My Trials
    And My Tripulations
    Through Our Doubts
    And Frustrations
    In My Violence
    In My Turbulence
    Through My Fear
    And My Confessions
    In My Anguish And My Pain
    Through My Joy And My Sorrow
    In The Promise Of Another Tomorrow
    I'll Never Let You Part
    For You're Alwa

    0 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 16, 2009

    Paul Newman: A Life is great reading.

    This is a very well done biography of a fascinating man who just happened to be a great American movie star. His ancestry and history growing up in Ohio reveals alot about his character. He clearly had his faults and appeared to a bit of a loner, but he sure had a wonderful life from start to finish. It was fun to read the back stories on his movies...but by the time you get to the end you appreciate all of the other things he did with his rather charmed life. I did not want to put the book down and would highly recommend this book to anyone who has enjoyed his movies.

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  • Posted August 3, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Paul Newman has been my favorite actor since I was a teenager.

    I really enjoyed this book, as it gave me more personal information on the actor. I developed my liking of Paul Newman strickly through his movies. This book enlightened me on Paul Newman the person. I knew he was divorced but I was disappointed to learn (he admits)of his infidelity to both his wives. I still like him and will now purchase the other book "Paul Newman the man behind the blue eyes". His commitment to helping the less fortunate will be his legacy. His family will continue these efforts. I recommend this book to both men and women.

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  • Posted July 18, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Great in depth research. Very detailed data of life and personality of an American icon.

    See above

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 4, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Great Read

    I love this book. Of course, I would love anything about one of the greatest, and best looking actors ever. This is really well written and very easy to read. Loved it.

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    Posted December 18, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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    Posted April 8, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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    Posted July 19, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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    Posted July 11, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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    Posted October 24, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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    Posted September 22, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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    Posted December 7, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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    Posted June 29, 2009

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