Paul Newman: A Life

( 3 )

Overview

A racy leading man, a devoted husband and father, an American icon. Any of these would describe Hollywood legend Paul Newman. Almost everyone the world over knows the public story of America's heartthrob, but few know what really went on beyond the silver screen—until now. Quirk's book chronicles how Newman, armed with his astonishing good looks and what his acting teacher called "magnetic presence," rushed into acting and marriage to get away from his father's disapproving eye. As Quirk deftly unveils, however, ...

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Paul Newman: A Life, Updated

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Overview

A racy leading man, a devoted husband and father, an American icon. Any of these would describe Hollywood legend Paul Newman. Almost everyone the world over knows the public story of America's heartthrob, but few know what really went on beyond the silver screen—until now. Quirk's book chronicles how Newman, armed with his astonishing good looks and what his acting teacher called "magnetic presence," rushed into acting and marriage to get away from his father's disapproving eye. As Quirk deftly unveils, however, Newman was unprepared to settle down, and the vows of marriage only served to ward off rumors of his suspected homosexuality. Quirk details Newman's rocky marriage, the joyful birth of his first child, and his first acting breaks on Broadway where he met his second wife, Joanne Woodward.

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Editorial Reviews

Midwest Book Review
Paul Newman presents a very human view of the film icon, a top pick for biography collections with a focus on the silver screen.
The District Blog
...[O]verall an honest biography...a tribute to a man whose life story would be done an injustice by anything less vivid.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781589794375
  • Publisher: Taylor Trade Publishing
  • Publication date: 11/25/2009
  • Edition description: Updated
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 1,405,611
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Lawrence J. Quirk is the author of over thirty books, including The Kennedys in Hollywood, Fasten Your Seat Belts: The Passionate Life of Bette Davis, and Robert Francis Kennedy. Quirk lives in New York City.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 1.5
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 9, 2010

    Impressive Subject, Unimpressive Biography

    Apparently Mr. Quirk wrote his original biography a few decades ago, and then went in to update the book following the death of Paul Newman. I was not very impressed and wouldn't recommend this book.
    Mr. Quirk does not seem able or desire to get past the GAY stories and rumors that followed Paul Newman all his career. Sadly, a man as attractive as Newman is usually a target (particulary in the era he began his career) of self-serving gay men/agents who were capable of making or breaking careers. Newman was so much more than these stories/rumors and it's a shame Quirk couldn't get past them.
    Whether or not Newman was bisexual or trying to get his career moving is of little consequence to many of us who saw what he ended up doing with his life. Quirk seems to enjoy doing a hatchet job on Newman when he reports of his failings with son Scott and of Newman's love of auto racing. He makes sure we know Newman wasn't the one who started the Scott Newman Foundation in his son's memory...and with glee. Newman had many people in the racing industry who respected and admired him...in this volume, you wouldn't think so. Quirk is focused on Newman's age and enjoys reporting over & over again that Newman was thought to be 'too old' to race. He seems to overlook the fact that, irregardless of his age, Newman raced for decades and walked away ALIVE and WELL, unlike many professional drivers. No credit from Quirk for that fact.
    Quirk gives the impression he dislikes/resents his subject and it comes thru in the digs & potshots he takes, which made it hard for me to finish this book, but finish it I did.
    My gut feeling is Quirk is gay and resents anyone who he needs to believe lived their life in the closet...Quirk needs to stick to writing biographies of OUT gay celebrities instead of trying to out others they THINK might be gay or bisexual. Especially bad idea to write about someone you have trouble being objective about. Mr. Newman's life was not that of a closeted bisexual...it was not the life of a man living lies. He was a fallible human being, just like the rest of us....including Mr. Quirk. And he made a BIG difference in the lives of many.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 30, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    What a disappointment!!

    For a few years, I had wanted to pick up a biography on Paul Newman so that I could gain a little more insight into this famous actor's life. His recent passing unfortunately was finally the catalyst for me to act on the urge. I was hoping to avoid the kind of books that are merely sentimental or fan-adoring tributes. I also wasn't interested in the coffee-table-type volumes that are chocked full of glossy, attractive photographs, but short on text. So, when I saw this, I thought I had found something that would suit my needs. Boy, was I mistaken!!

    First of all, this is not a biography in any real sense of the word. The title should be changed to "Paul Newman, a Cursory Summary of His Movies." There is, at best, a shallow examination of Newman's life away from film, peppered with stereotypical psychological assumptions concerning the relationships he had with his father, his wife and his children (particularly his son). Other than that, the story line consists mainly of Quirk providing us with his ostensibly professional impressions of Newman's movies, most of which were culled from Quirk's earlier reviews. There is very little added research, and what does exist, was not utilized very well.


    When the author does devote time to Newman's non-movie life, his accounts are not only brief but questionable as well. If anything, they are rife with personal opinion and innuendo (as are his movie reviews). Quirk tells us that he is trying to produce an objective picture of Newman as a person as well as an actor, but his version of "objectivity" is to make random and unfounded judgments (again through a very primitive psychological approach). Among other things, he creates a Newman straw man who, allegedly, constantly had to "prove himself as a man." Once he establishes this dubious foundation, Quirk then gratuitously builds upon it to explain some of what he considers to be the more conspicuous aspects of Newman's character- his obsessive desire to drink, his need to be "one of the boys" and his fascination with auto racing. He has similarly narrow asides (mostly based upon rumor and hearsay) concerning Newman's wife, Joanne Woodward. Throughout, Quirk is quick to draw conclusions, but found wanting when we look for his proof.

    I could go on, but there is no need, except to say that the author's writing style is not exactly high prose either! The obvious conclusion is that I will simply have to find a better biography of Paul Newman. This book is completely unsatisfying, and I cannot recommend it to other readers.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 18, 2012

    The book is about the author

    This book was a disappointment. The author starts out with Newman's life growing up, his experiences, etc. doing an excellent job. Once Newman becomes an actor each item that he takes part in is dissected and listed as being for the most part poorly done in the author's opinion. He constantly evaluates each role for "deep inner meaning", almost as if he's pschcoanalizing the intent of the role, and continually emphasizes that Newman is playing the parts out of characters. If you keep score of what Newman does well based on a batting average, he's hitting less than 0.200.
    I must be different, when I watch a movie or read a book I am reading them for enjoyment and I would venture to say that most of the movies that Paul Newman made that I have seen he played the roles very well. Granted he was late earning an academy award but most of his pictures especially in his later years made money and attracted millions.
    The author it seems to me is coming off as taking on the role of a pschyoanalist and less a a biographer.
    Some of his comments are insulting to both Paul Newman, his wives, and other actors that had roles in many of his pictures.
    The factual parts were interesting, I just got tired of his emphasis and use of adverse criticisms of Paul Newman.
    I feel the author was trying applaud and laud himself more so that offering a biography of an excellent actor. In conclusion, he leaves you with the impression that Paul Newman was a so-so often mis-cast, actor unable to "get into the role" and unable to translate real-life emotions and personalities. He's dead wrong!

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