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Paul Newman: A Life

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3.74  ·  Rating Details  ·  889 Ratings  ·  127 Reviews
Paul Newman, the Oscar-winning actor with the legendary blue eyes, achieved superstar status by playing charismatic renegades, broken heroes, and winsome antiheroes in such revered films as The Hustler, Cool Hand Luke, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Verdict, The Color of Money, and Nobody’s Fool. But Newman was also an oddity in Hollywood: the rare box-office tita ...more
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Published May 5th 2009 by Crown Archetype (first published 2009)
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Bethany
Feb 24, 2011 Bethany rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Julie
Aug 04, 2009 Julie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting but laborious ... lots and lots of detail, but in no particular order ... Most biographies are written in chronological order or at least by subject matter, but this one was like someone threw information pick-up-sticks in the air and wrote it like they landed. ..sometimes with duplications. For someone as accomplished as Paul Newman, I expected a better read. Some similarities of other Hollywood men - booze, infidelity, lousy at being a father while his children were growing up, but ...more
Bonnie
Jun 04, 2012 Bonnie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm really on a biography kick! Paul Newman: A Life really depicts an amazing life of an amazing man. It hardly seems one book can cover all that he was, from an Oscar winning actor to a championship racecar driver, to a fabulously generous philanthropist, and of course dedicated husband and father of six. I learned things I never knew about Newman (that he was born in Shaker Heights, that he had been married before his legendary 50+ year marriage to Joanne Woodward, and that his famous Newman's ...more
Kristen
Jun 23, 2016 Kristen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves:
Shawn Levy's book describes Newman's charmed life from his birth to a prosperous sporting-goods dealer in Cleveland to his days as a vigorous old man, darting between movie sets, race tracks, the Newman's Own company and his beloved philanthropies.

Did it feel a little naughty to keep the book-cover picture of a shirtless Paul in his primest prime on my nightstand for a week or so? Yeah, kinda. Let's just say it was an easy book to pick up. I was always eager to read on. This does not, repeat, d
...more
Toby
Jul 25, 2016 Toby rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Meet the complex man behind the gorgeous blue eyes

I can't say I began reading this book with objectivity. I am a lifelong Paul Newman fan.

I will say that I got to know him better through this book and discovered a much more complicated actor-racer-entrepreneur-philanthropist than I expected. In fact, in many ways, he was a study of contradictions. He was an inherently self-absorbed human, blessed with many gifts and much luck, who spent his life pursuing personal passions, often regardless of th
...more
Hartungt
Jul 15, 2016 Hartungt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What do you expect from a biography? A person is born, they die and you try to put their life in some kind of historical context. As far as this biography of Paul Newman goes, like the sauce commercial says, “It’s in there”. Everything you expect, the details, the documentation, the quotes are all there and nicely presented in a readable form. The author wisely chooses the chronological format which is the obvious choice for biographies. However, early on the author adopts an affectation to begi ...more
Rob
Jun 19, 2009 Rob rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A perfectly acceptable biography. It's nothing special, but Levy does avoid meaningless gossip for the most part. There is some repetition of facts (okay, Paul Newman drank a case of beer every day, you don't have to keep reminding us!) and there are definite gaps in the story since it's an unauthorized biography. It will do until someone else can really delve into this remarkable man's life.
Ed
Jun 24, 2016 Ed rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This gets off to a very rocky start by falling into the same trap 99% of all biographies fall into: too much pointless info. While I admire the research that went into unearthing everything about Newman's uncles, I just found it a snooze. Luckily, this same level of detail soon went into Newman himself, which is why I, ya know, wanted to read this. This was a pretty emotional ride much in the way the best Paul Newman performances were. I was stunned to learn of his affair in the late 60s and his ...more
Maurice Rubino
Jul 18, 2016 Maurice Rubino rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Paul Newman, a "lucky" life shared with others.

While reading the biography of Paul Newman, I was reminded of the line in John Legend's song "All of Me", I Love You For All Your Perfect Imperfections". John' words are for his wife but they provide a good description of the many roles that Paul Newman filled throughout his life: Husband; Father, Grandfather, Actor, Movie Star, Sex Symbol, Entrepreneur; Film Director ; Activist; Champion Driver; Championship Team Owner; Oscar winner; National Treas
...more
Mara
Dec 17, 2014 Mara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Most of my stars are for Paul Newman himself, he was an interesting man who led a life worth telling the story of, which made for a decent book (I listened to this as an audiobook). The author did a good job covering the bases and leading the path through that life, but I found the writing style a bit smarmy from time to time. It had that feel of someone trying to shoehorn extra large words into their writing in order to appear more intelligent. This did not help the audiobook reader any, as he ...more
Shaun
Jan 25, 2016 Shaun rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an interesting book about the famous actor Paul Newman. I was interested to learn about how he got into acting and eventually into salad dressing and auto racing. The story was interesting, but some of the aspects of his life did not engage me. I guess that could probably be said of me, if I wrote an autobiography. Overall, I liked the book and enjoyed hearing some of the behind the scenes stories that occurred when he shot movies. I especially liked to hear about Butch Cassidy and the ...more
Keenan Johnston
Oct 03, 2014 Keenan Johnston rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"He created characters whose allure hid complex and painful depths. If his looks would make him a star, he would redirect that stardom into a benefit for others, slapping his face on labels of food products and making staggering wealth-just to give it all away. If he was a sex symbol, he'd work hard being a good husband and father. If his wealth meant that he could take up motor sports at a high level, he would work as tenaciously at racing as acting to earn acceptance through acquired skill. If ...more
Annie
Jun 18, 2016 Annie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this biography. I have been a fan of Paul Newman since I was a young girl.

I was not even aware of this book until Amazon advertised a Kindle sale edition. I stopped reading my other books and immediately began this one. And I am certainly pleased that I did.

The nicely written nostalgic look behind the scenes of his iconic movies and theatre performances [I wasn't familiar with these] made me feel as though i was part of the crew.

Getting to know the man behind the persona was at
...more
Sharon
What a man, what a man! I'm a fan of biographies and this has been one of my favorites, so far. I learned so much about all of the facets that made Paul Newman that special person so many loved. Actor, husband, father, race car driver, business owner, philanthropist, director, and all-around good, human being. He had his faults definitely, could have been a more, present father but he loved his children and I was surprised he only had two grandchildren at the time the book was written.

Don't know
...more
Wendy
Dec 24, 2011 Wendy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My Runner-Up for best Non-Fiction or BIO that I've read in 2011!

Truly one of the better (or best) biographies I've read, although I'm not sure if that's due to the writing of author Shawn Levy or the subject he was writing on.

Paul Newman certainly didn't have a closet full of skeletons and didn't lead a dramatic life worthy of tabloid gossip. So it may have been easy for Shawn Levy to give the world such a great bio on Paul Newman, the "husband, father, actor, movie star, sex symbol, entrepren
...more
Diane
Jun 18, 2009 Diane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Ruth


Paul Newman was mainly known to the world as a movie star – an icon, really – with a beautiful face, mesmerising blue eyes, and a air of rascality about him. His long marriage to Joanne Woodward was revered in a profession where marriages often seem to break up almost as soon as the vows are read. This book is a journey through Newman’s life, from his happy childhood as the son of the owner of a successful sporting goods business, to the start of his acting career, and of course, his Hollywood s
...more
Carole
Apr 28, 2012 Carole rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So far, very good research for the book. Since I live in Cleveland, I was very attuned to Levy's recounting of life in Shaker Heights and Cleveland in general during Newman's youth. It seemed fairly accurate and full of melting pot/Industrial revolution information. Shaker is a ground breaker, having one of the earliest subway (transit) systems in the Country.

I finished it, I'll keep it at four out of five stars mostly because it was well written. The rest of it was an interesting account of an
...more
Harley
Paul Newman was born in Cleveland, OH four months after my mother was born in central Illinois and seven months before my father was born. He was clearly of my parents' generation. The Paul Newman I discovered was an actor who played rebel characters that inspired me in my youth. My favorite movies were Cool Hand Luke, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and the Sting. All released between 1967 and 1973.

In this biography I learned much more about Paul Newman, the human being. His was a strong li
...more
Tony Bertauski
Oct 05, 2013 Tony Bertauski rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As Newman fans go, I'm a casual one. Color of Money, The Hustler, Slapshot, Coolhand Luke...that's as far I get. I chose his biography to learn more about the man that raised millions for charity, the man that remained married for 40+ years, the man that seemed to be as genuine and gritty as his characters.

This biography doesn't disappoint.

Like most people that have mastered a craft, he didn't just fall into it. He studied it, he obsessed over it, he fought for it. And while there were certainly
...more
Matt
Jun 07, 2009 Matt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Full disclosure: Levy covers film at the Oregonian, and we know each other. But I've been enjoying an advance proof of this book, immensely.

Levy's theory is that Newman may not have been the best actor of the 20th century (Brando! Brando! Brando!) but that he was the most American.

When he first got to New York, Newman sold encyclopedias from his apartment in Long Island in the afternoons, after touring all the agents' offices in the morning in a white suit, for several months.

He may have been
...more
Martha
Jan 27, 2010 Martha rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a very interesting read. The book is well researched, largely avoiding the gossip that characterizes many celebrity profiles. Very detailed, it nonetheless held my attention throughout (though some of the most intimate details left me feeling a bit uncomfortable). Levy draws a well-rounded picture of his subject, referring throughout the book to the themes that characterized Newman's life: luck, gratitude, focus and passion for his pursuits, love for family, involvement in the issues o ...more
James Biser
Jul 23, 2014 James Biser rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love biographies. This was a great read. It is funny how we think we get to know an actor because we become familiar with and relate well to several of the roles they have played in films. This book gave me the insight that Paul Newman is very likeable and more interesting than Hud, Butch Cassidy, Doc Hudson, or even Cool Hand Luke. This book is a good choice to dedicate some time to. You will find that Paul Newman can be a hero as much or more than any of the characters he has given voice.
Margaret
Dec 16, 2015 Margaret rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really enjoyed this bio. It's easy to admire someone who tries to live a full life and who also gives back to society. Newman was an amazing person - an accomplished actor, race car driver, business owner, philanthropist, and director. I found the story of his background and childhood very interesting. Levy never had access to the man but did a great job of compiling all the articles, books etc. to write a fair and balanced biography.


Barbara
This is one of the best show-biz bios I've ever read. The book is not just 'he did A, then B, then...' Instead, Levy has demonstrated the way that Newman's life is reflected in his choice of films. His love of racing (he still was racing in his 80s!!), his political views and actions, his family, a life is more and his demonstrated philanthropy are described with the same importance as his acting ... after all, a life is more than a job.
Barbara
Jun 19, 2009 Barbara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography, 2009
This book is certainly worth the read. There are two things that are going against me at this point. I have always been a hugh admirer of Paul Newman, perhaps more for his humanitarian work than for his acting, althought I certainly appreciated that aspect of Newman. I feel that I am getting to know a little too much, a private life that should be kept private, they way he chose to live it. I remember one of the occasions I was fortunate enough to see him perform in person in CT, I brought a pai ...more
Jan
Sep 17, 2009 Jan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wow! Quite a guy- he was not only a terrific actor but an amazing human being. A very complete biography, and well-done; it had a little too much info on all the films he made, for my taste- that became tiresome. He certainly lived a full life- born in Cleveland, dad owned a big sporting goods store but Paul was never any good at sports, WWII vet, college grad, married young and had three kids. Joanne was his second wife, with whom he had three more kids. A heavy drinker most of his life. Politi ...more
Jack
Apr 30, 2013 Jack rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It never fails when completing one of these biographies, you seem compelled to sit down and watch so many of the movies described. This bio was written without the assistance of Paul Newman or his family. Consequently it is a documented timeline of Paul Newman's world as it can be defined through newspapers, magazines, film archives, other's books and interviews that both he and his wife have given. Several of the Newman's friends and work associates were also interviewd. Not to say there weren' ...more
Sheryl
Jul 23, 2016 Sheryl rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well executed with taste

Not a gossipy type bio, it gives a robust characterization of the young actor, his energy and zeal for life, a boy- like, ageless persona right through middle age, car racing, his solid and loving relationship with Joanne Woodward....his philanthropy and huge generosity. One helluva ride, one unique human being!
Elizabeth Harless
A Fitting Tribute

Written with compassion & understanding, this biography of Paul Newman provides a picture of not just the movie star but the man behind those incredible blue eyes. It presents him in all his human frailties and strengths, & shows us why he was so beloved by not just his fans, but all who knew him.
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